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Respiratory Problems In Newborns

Posted On: Apr 07, 2022

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paediatric pulmonologist in Bangalore

Newborn babies tend to have irregular breathing patterns (fast and slow), and observing them can let you know if the baby has any respiratory disorders or respiratory infections. Respiratory problems in babies and newborns are common and there may be several types of respiratory problems. 

Some of the common respiratory infections in newborn babies in India include common cold, flu, croup, asthma, apnea, bronchiolitis, Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), and many others.

Breathing Patterns and Respiratory Problems in Babies and Newborns

As mentioned above, the breathing patterns of your newborn and the noises associated with them can help you understand the baby's respiratory diseases and breathing problems.

Some of them may include:

  • Barking Cough/Hoarse cry: This could mean that there is a blockage in the larynx of the newborn and usually occurs due to mucus collection. It is a symptom of croup.

  • Deep Cough: This is caused due to a blockage in a division of the trachea, called the bronchi.

  • Whistling Noise: This could be due to a nasal blockage (nostrils) in the newborn. This is easier to spot as newborns breathe out of their noses and not their mouths.

  • Wheezing: Bronchioles blockage could lead to wheezing and a whistling sound. This could also be one of the asthma symptoms.

  • Deep Raspy Sound: A condition known as tracheomalacia, affecting the soft tissues of the trachea, can produce a deep raspy sound (especially when lying on the back) in an infant.

  • Fast Breathing: Pneumonia is caused by fluid collecting in the alveoli, the main reason for which is a virus or bacteria attack. One of the symptoms of pneumonia is fast and laboured breathing in newborns and babies, while another symptom could be a persistent cough.

Types of Respiratory Diseases in Newborns and Babies

Breathing problems in newborns and babies can lead to several respiratory illnesses. The most common respiratory infections in babies are:

  • Common Cold: With over 200 viruses that may cause it, the common cold has some distinctive symptoms in babies such as a sore throat, cough, poor appetite, blocked nose, and a runny nose.

  • Croup: Inflammation of the larynx and trachea caused by a viral infection and can affect babies from 6 months to 3 years old. It is characterised by a barking cough that usually starts suddenly at night, noisy laboured breathing, high pitched noise when inhaling.

  • Influenza: The flu has many typical signs such as fever, dry cough, and chills, and if the fever is high there may be febrile seizures.  

  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome: A serious breathing problem in premature babies that are born within 34 weeks of pregnancy, and whose lungs are not yet mature. Surfactant is a chemical mixture that prevents the small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. Premature babies with RDS lack this particular mixture and need to be treated with the same. It is common if the mother has diabetes, cesarean section or induction of labour before full term, delayed labour, or rapid labour. Consult with the pediatric pulmonologist in Bangalore to know more.

  • Pneumonia: An infection of the lung, causing inflammation and collection of fluid, Pneumonia is one of the respiratory problems in newborns. Cyanosis, rapid breathing, cough, in-drawing of the chest muscles, fever, and grunting are some symptoms of pneumonia.

  • Apnea: Apnea is one of the respiratory problems in premature babies where they stop breathing for 15-20 seconds. A slow heart rate accompanies apnea and this condition is usually monitored in the NICU.

  • Asthma: Another major baby respiratory problem is asthma. Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness causing breathing problems in children. Babies with asthma need to be monitored closely and need close follow-ups. Asthma symptoms in babies may include severe wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and breathing difficulty. Airways of the lungs tend to get irritated due to allergic substances entering them, causing them to spasm and swell up.

  • Bronchiolitis: a virus known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) usually affecting premature babies causes this. It is spread by contaminated objects, hands, droplets in the air, etc. This virus causes swelling of the bronchioles (the tiny airways and passageways in the lungs). The patient has a cough, fever, rapid heartbeat, rapid shallow breathing, retractions, or drawing in of the muscles and skin around the neck and chest with each breath and flaring of the nostrils. Book an appointment at Manipal, the pulmonology hospital in Sarjapur, Bangalore for the best treatment.

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