Wednesday, July 27, 2011

what is BPD?

i get a lot of questions about gavin's diagnosis in regards to his lung disease. i thought i would clear up any misconceptions or, if you are new to the blog, give you a quick overview of what gavin has and what that means for him in the long run.

when gavin was born, he was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dyslpasia, or BPD. here is a little overview of what that means exaclty.

what is BPD?
in BPD, the airways and lung tissue are damaged, and cause a breathing problem that lasts a long time (chronic). many babies who are premature or are born with medical problems need to be treated with breathing machines (mechanical ventilation) or oxygen to stay alive (gavin was on mechanical ventilation for about 2 months). these necessary breathing machines and the strong mixtures of oxygen cause some damage. BPD is seen most often in babies who have had these treatments. most babies with BPD need extra oxygen and medicine at home. the good news is, as babies grow they can get new lung tissue. it takes a long time for a baby with BPD to get better, but most do well over time. the lung parts that are damaged in BPD are the parts that take in oxygen and put out carbon dioxide, or do the gas exchange. these are bronchi and alveoli. gavin needs extra oxygen to make sure enough oxygen gets into his body. damaged airways in the lungs don’t always behave normally. they tend to be twitchy and react to things. at times, airways may be too narrow to let air through easily. these reactive airways may go into bronchospasm. when this happens, babies with BPD may have trouble breathing and wheeze, and his or her chest may suck in with breaths (retractions). when this happens, babies need to get rid of carbon dioxide and get more oxygen.

What kinds of problems do babies with BPD have?
there are several problems babies with BPD tend to get. babies with BPD may have some or all of these problems.
• many respiratory infections: in the first year of life about half the babies with BPD will be back in the hospital with a respiratory infection. their damaged lungs catch germs easily (this has happened for gavin many times).
• slow growth: babies with BPD may have trouble gaining weight because they use large amounts of energy just to breathe. this is why special additions need to be added to his bottles in order for him to get the extra calories that he needs.
• trouble with feeding: some babies with BPD have trouble with reflux and throw up quite a bit (umm....definitely pertains to gavin).
• congestive heart failure: lung problems can make the heart work harder. medicine, fluid balance and diet can prevent or control congestive heart failure (gavin sees a cardiologist now to closely monitor this).
• trouble with electrolytes: too much fluid in the lungs can make it harder for babies with BPD to breathe. medicine that helps babies get rid of extra fluid is called a diuretic. this fluid also contains electrolytes. electrolytes are salts that flow in and around body cells. the fluid and electrolytes have to be kept in balance. babies may need to get extra electrolytes added to formula or have the dose of their diuretic changed often. babies with BPD need regular blood tests so the doctor can watch the electrolyte balance (gavin received several doses of a diuretic while in the nicu but none since we have been home). yay!!!
• developmental delay: some parents say their babies with BPD took longer to sit up or walk than other children. this happens because they spent their first few weeks or months ill in the hospital. this is why gavin receives all of the therapy that he does.

i hope that helps everyone understand exactly what gavin goes through each day. he works so hard just to breathe and everything is second to that.

if you wish to read the entire article, click here and please don't hesitate to ask me questions if you have any.

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