Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

Transient tachypnea of the newborn
is a mild breathing problem. It affects babies during the first hours of life. Transient
means it is short-lived. Tachypnea means fast breathing rate. The problem often goes
away on its own in about 3 days.

How to say it

tuh-KIHP-nee-uh

Before babies are born, they have fluid in their lungs. Babies reabsorb some of that
fluid because of hormone changes that happen before birth. More fluid gets reabsorbed
as they pass through the birth canal during delivery. The rest of the fluid is absorbed
into the lungs after they are born and start breathing on their own. If the fluid
isn’t absorbed fast enough or if they have too much fluid in the lungs, they can’t
take in oxygen very well. Babies with this problem have to breathe faster and harder
to get enough oxygen into the lungs.

Only a small number of all newborn babies get this breathing problem. Although premature
babies can have it, most babies with this problem are full-term. Babies delivered
by C-section (without labor) are more likely to have this condition. This is because
without the hormone changes of labor the fluid in the lungs is still there. The baby
has to work to reabsorb it after birth. Babies of moms with asthma and diabetes may
also be more likely to have this condition.

Symptoms may be a bit different for
each child. They can include:

  • Fast breathing rate of more than 60
    breaths per minute
  • Grunting sounds with breathing
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Pulling in at the ribs with breathing

The symptoms of this breathing
problem can seem like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees their
healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Your baby may need a chest X-ray to
help diagnose the problem. On X-ray, the lungs look streaky and overinflated. The
symptoms of this breathing problem may seem like other more serious respiratory
problems. These include lung infection (pneumonia) or premature lungs (respiratory
distress syndrome). Often transient tachypnea of the newborn is diagnosed when symptoms
go away in the first few hours or days of life.

Often the problem goes away on its
own in about 3 days. Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general
health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment may include:

  • Supplemental oxygen. Oxygen is given to your baby by
    placing a mask on the face or prongs (cannula) in the nose. Or by putting your baby
    under an oxygen hood.
  • Blood tests. These tests measure the amount of oxygen and
    carbon dioxide in your baby’s blood. Tests may also be done to look for
    infection.
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This treatment
    uses a mechanical breathing machine. The machine pushes a continuous flow of air to
    your baby’s airways to help keep tiny air passages in the lungs open.
  • IV (intravenous) fluid.  Your baby may need this for
    hydration and nutrition if the condition doesn’t go away in the first few hours. This
    is because babies who are having trouble breathing aren’t able to eat.
  • Tube feeding. Your baby may need this if their breathing
    rate is too high for more than a few hours. This will help give your baby more
    nutrition without the risk of breathing in food from the mouth into the lungs.

Once the problem goes away, your
baby should get better quickly. They aren’t likely to have any long-term problems.

  • Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a mild breathing problem. It affects babies
    soon after birth and lasts up to 3 days.
  • The problem often goes away on its
    own.
  • Treatment may include supplemental
    oxygen, blood tests, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Babies will
    often need help with nutrition until they are able to feed by mouth.
  • Once the problem goes away, your
    baby should get better quickly. They aren’t likely to have any long-term
    problems.

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments,
    or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child.
    Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose
    for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important
    if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.