What is Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia?
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia or BPD is used to describe abnormal development or growth (dysplasia) of lung tissue and structures. It usually affects pre-term infants and full-term infants who experience respiratory issues after birth. Symptoms of BPD appear within the first month after birth. Generally, "babies who are still dependent on a respirator for oxygen at 28 days of age and whose chest x-rays are typical of BPD are considered to have the disorder" (www.doereport.com).
BPD, along with cystic fibrosis and asthma, ranks as one of the most common chronic lung conditions to affect infants in the United States. "Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 new cases of BPD (20 to 30 percent of infants surviving respiratory distress syndrome) occur each year" (www.doereport.com). About 4000 of those patients survive infancy.
The risk of BPD increases with the decrease in gestation period. In fact, 90 percent of infants who develop BPD weigh less than 3.5 pounds.
When the condition was first identified in 1967, many babies born prematurely who developed BPD, did not survive. As treatment for pre-term babies and BPD have improved, therefore increasing chances of living into adulthood, which has led doctors and scientists to wonder if these patients continue to have lung problems when they grow up, and if so, what kind.
According to a report in the December 27, 1990 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, "investigators showed that respiratory abnormalities may be found in a majority of patients who had bronchopulmonary dysplasia in infancy. However, in many patients these abnormalities were asymptomatic..." (www.faqs.org/abstracts/Health/).
The American Journal of Roentgenology published a report in 2000 about the high-resolution CT findings of three medical institutions - Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada; Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California; and, Royal Bromptom National Heart and Lung Hospital, London, England. This study showed that survivors of neonatal bronchopulmonary dysplasia experience reduced lung strength and ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen in the blood stream, thickening of the bronchial wall, and other structural and performance-related issues.
In April 2008, The European Respiratory Journal published an article based on the findings of the Advanced Lung Disease Program in the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia, and other renowned Australian hospitals. Of the 21 participants, 71 percent experienced persistent respiratory symptoms. CT examinations of the lungs also revealed abnormal results, the most common being emphysema, which was found in 84 percent of the subjects tested.
All three studies deduced that while survival rates since the discovery of the condition in infants has increased due to better diagnostic tools and treatments, adult BPD survivors still experience "residual functional and characteristic structural pulmonary abnormalities" (www.erj.ersjournals.com).
Sources: www.doereport.com; http://kidshealth.org; www.ajronline.org; www.erj.ersjournals.com; www.faqs.org/abstracts/Health/