The Most Frequent Respiratory Diseases In Newborn Babies

Respiratory diseases are common and can be very dangerous for newborns. Identifying and treating them promptly can save numerous lives.
The most frequent respiratory diseases in the newborn

Respiratory diseases in the newborn are quite common and must be evaluated and treated in time to avoid major complications.

The lungs are the last organ that develops in the fetus before birth, which is why they are susceptible to more problems. If a baby is born prematurely, it is possible that the lungs are not fully developed and are more exposed to risk factors.

In addition to this, some genetic factors hinder the newborn’s breathing. Other risk factors can include: complicated births during which the baby’s blood circulation is reduced or infections contracted after birth.

In all cases it is essential to treat them, since respiratory diseases in the newborn can have serious consequences, being also one of the main causes of death in neonatal age.

What are the symptoms of respiratory diseases in the newborn?

The main symptoms that  lead the doctor to diagnose a respiratory disease immediately after delivery and in the following days are the following:

  • Absence of breathing.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Arrhythmic breathing.
  • Noises when breathing.
  • Excess mucus.
  • Lung retraction.
Baby in the incubator.

Respiratory diseases in the newborn more frequent


It occurs when  the baby stops breathing for 20 seconds. It usually develops when the lungs are not developed sufficiently.

When there is apnea, the baby’s heart rate may decrease. Bradycardia or a low heart rate and a whiter or purpler skin color, known as cyanosis, may develop.

It is common in babies who are born by caesarean section and / or  prematurely . This complication usually disappears in less than 24 hours after oxygen administration.


Premature babies are more prone to pneumonia onset because their lungs are not fully developed.

Meconium, or the first stools that are expelled by babies sometimes still in the womb, can be aspirated by the fetus during delivery. This can cause a respiratory infection that causes pneumonia.

Respiratory distress syndrome

This infection is more common in premature babies, especially among those born between the 36th and 39th week.

At this stage of the fetus’s formation , surfectant has not yet been produced, which is a substance that protects the lungs and helps them fill with air without increasing the pressure of the alveoli. This can cause lung collapse.

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia

It is a complication that is not innate in the newborn, but is acquired as a result of the treatments administered if born premature. Administering oxygen to the newborn, even if necessary to save life, can damage its delicate lungs. If this happens, the baby may have difficulty breathing.

Pneumothorax among the respiratory diseases of the newborn

It occurs when air remains in the lungs and chest during birth causing pressure. The newborn has a bluish complexion and breathing problems, which is why he needs to be treated immediately by introducing a catheter to help him remove trapped air.

Other respiratory diseases of the newborn

Other less common, but equally serious, pulmonary or respiratory complications are:

  • Congenital bronchiectasis: inflammation of the airways caused by an infection.
  • Pulmonary hypoplasia : a congenital anomaly characterized by arrested development of the lungs.
  • Pneumonia congenita : inflammation of the lung tissue of a non-infectious nature.
Newborn baby with respiratory mask.

Can respiratory diseases be prevented in the newborn?

Respiratory diseases are difficult to diagnose and prevent. For this reason, it is advisable to follow these tips during pregnancy:

  • Do all medical tests recommended by doctors.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Not smoking.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t use drugs.

In any case,  maintaining good health during pregnancy helps prevent premature birth and the consequent risk of incomplete lung development.

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