Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension?

Although persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH) is rare, it is recognized, as a life-threatening condition to newborns – it normally only occurs in one to two children per 1,000 births. PPH occurs as result of a newborn’s circulation failing to adapt to breathing outside of the womb.

Inside the womb, the fetus is provided oxygen from the placenta through the umbilical cord – therefore, a small amount of blood is needed in the fetus’s lungs. Blood in the pulmonary artery of the heart is sent away from the lungs due to the lungs’ high blood pressure, and the blood is sent to other organs through the ductus arterosis – a fetal blood vessel.

As a newborn child breaths for the first time, the blood pressure of the lungs decreases – resulting in a greater amount of blood flow to the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Subsequently, the blood flows back to the heart and pumped throughout the body – it is at this point that the ductus arterosis permanently closes. In a newborn affected by PPH, the blood pressure in the lungs does not go down causing the ductus arterious to remain open – which allows blood to continue to flow away from the lungs.

Possible Causes of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension and Side effects

Although the exact cause for PPH may be unknown in a newborn, there are several possibilities including the following:

  • Stress while the baby is in the uterus (ex: maternal diabetes, high blood pressure, or anemia)
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome, anemia, severe pneumonia, infection, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and birth asphyxia (deprivation of oxygen to baby during difficult birth)

Studies have shown that if selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants are taken after the 20th week of pregnancy the risk of having a newborn with PPH increases to 12 per 1,000 births. These SSRIs include the following:

Possible Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension Side Effects

PPH is a serious health condition and intensive monitoring and treatments are required – unfortunately, some newborns continue to have an inadequate amount of oxygen supply to the body’s tissues leading to shock, heart failure, brain hemorrhage, seizures, kidney failure, multiple organ damage, and possibly even death.

If a newborn survives PPH there may be other side effects that occur including:

  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (a chronic lung disease associated with scarred, stiffened lungs)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizure disorders
  • Developmental delay
  • Neurological deficits
  • Difficulty feeding by mouth as a newborn
  • Hearing difficulties

Filing a Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension Lawsuit

Studies have found that if SSRIs are taken during pregnancy there is an increased risk for having a child born with PPH. If you or someone you know has had a newborn affected by PPH, it is recommended that you contact a Chaffin Luhana, LLP persistent pulmonary hypertension lawyer as soon as possible. Call 1-888-480-1123 for a free and confidential case review today. You may be entitled to compensation, and the lawyers at Chaffin Luhana can help.