Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

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Persistent pulmonary hypertension is also referred to as “persistent fetal circulation” or “infant pulmonary hypertension.”  When a newborn baby has persistent pulmonary hypertension, the baby’s circulation reverts to the circulation of a fetus. As a result, the blood flow bypasses the lungs.  Consequently, when blood avoids the lungs, it is hard for the lungs to work to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.  When this occurs, there is a low blood oxygen level and the body’s organs, which require oxygen-rich blood, may become damaged.

Symptoms of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

There are various symptoms of persistent pulmonary hypertension.  Every infant presents with different symptoms.  Symptoms include:

  • infant appears to be ill upon delivery or within several hours following delivery
  • cyanosis (blue coloring)
  • rapid heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • low blood oxygen levels despite receiving oxygen
  • pulmonary edema
  • pulmonary atresia

Causes of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

Throughout pregnancy, a fetus does not utilize the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, so the fetal lungs use less blood supply.  However, once born, the fetal circulation system changes.  There is a change in pressure in the lungs which helps to close fetal blood supply connections and redirect the flow of blood.  As a result, blood should be pumped directly to the baby’s lungs to assist with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension will arise when a baby has problems breathing at birth or if the baby has lowered oxygen levels.  As a result, the baby’s circulation will go back to the fetal system and the blood pressure in the lungs will remain high, causing a persistent pulmonary hypertension prognosis.

Liability Issues

While persistent pulmonary hypertension may not be the result of malpractice, there may be instances where the condition was caused by such an issue.  For instance, if a pregnant woman ingested a prescription drug which is linked with the defect, there may be a potential legal claim against the prescribing physician and/or the drug manufacturer.

Getting Legal Help

If one’s child has persistent pulmonary hypertension, one may seek to consult with an attorney.  An attorney will have the knowledge and resources to evaluate the case and determine whether there is a valid claim. Additionally, an attorney can assist in selecting an appropriate course of action with respect to the claim.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice or representation,
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