Posted by Claudia Grazioso on November 16, 2011
It was not the ideal birth you’d hoped for. After nine months of pregnancy and happy anticipation, your child was born and looked maybe a little bluish. At first, you told yourself that this might be kind of normal. Then the medical staff gets concerned, which terrifies you. They point to the fact that your infant has a rapid heartbeat, or perhaps is making grunting sounds when he or she tries to breathe, or is in clear respiratory distress. They finally give a name to your fear, and it’s PPHN, or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn.
The next few weeks are a blur, as your child is treated, most likely in the NICU, for PPHN. Thankfully, because we now know so much more about this condition, his or her chances of survival are much better than they were even a short time ago. And your child makes it through. You get to go home and raise your child normally… almost. If your child was born with PPHN, there are a few things you should be extra vigilant about as you go forward, especially in the first two years of his or her life.
After your child has beaten PPHN, he or she might experience feeding problems for a while. A specially-trained speech therapist might be able to help your infant learn to eat normally again. Also, after they’ve fully recovered from PPHN, have your baby’s nervous system checked. A neurologist might even want to perform an MRI or a CT scan of the brain to assess whether there was any damage or injury due to lack of oxygen. Some estimates suggest that up to 25 percent of children born with PPHN have some neurological or developmental delays or difficulties. The sooner you know of a problem, the faster you can get the appropriate help and therapy, which will make your child’s chances at a normal and healthy life even better.
Finally, be sure to have your child’s hearing checked regularly through the first two years. Some experts even suggest having another full hearing and developmental evaluation done before he or she begins school. Many children born with PPHN have been reported to have late onset hearing problems. Be sure to check them regularly so you can get them the therapy they might need.
Thankfully, PPHN is a rare disorder, but if you take antidepressants during your pregnancy, especially SSRIs like Prozac, your infant’s chances of having this condition go up significantly. If you are pregnant and battling depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor about treatment that is safe for you and your baby.