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Chronic Lung Disease in Infants: Caring for Your Baby

Topic Overview

Home treatment is often needed for a baby who has been diagnosed with chronic lung disease. Before you take your newborn home from the hospital, you need to be able to:

  • Recognize the symptoms and know what to do if your baby has difficulty breathing or stops breathing.
  • Perform CPR in the unlikely event that your baby will need it.
  • Recognize the early signs of upper respiratory infection, such as irritability, mild fever, nasal stuffiness, cough, difficulty breathing, or wheezing. If these signs develop, call your doctor.
  • Safely and adequately feed your baby. A baby's nutritional needs are very important after he or she goes home. Newborns who have chronic lung disease need to have extra calories and protein in their diet. This helps their lungs heal and grow as normally as possible. Most newborns can be fed with breast milk or formula when they go home.
  • Give the baby's prescribed medicines and monitor the effects.
  • Call the doctor or seek emergency help if needed.

It will also be important for you to keep track of:

  • Your baby's weight as often as the doctor requests. Watching for changes in a baby's weight is one way to tell whether his or her nutritional needs are being met.
  • How much your baby drinks and feeds. Most babies get more nutrients if they are fed frequently and receive small amounts of fluid at a time. Allow your baby to rest during feeding if needed.

After you are at home, try to establish a regular, predictable routine of caring for your baby. Some suggestions to avoid problems linked with chronic lung disease include the following:

  • Ask your doctor about how to schedule your baby's medicines.
  • Try to do caregiving tasks (such as feeding and bathing) back-to-back or at the same time, between naps, to allow the baby to rest for longer periods of time.
  • If the baby is having trouble breathing, wait to do the care until he or she is breathing more easily.
  • Avoid exposing your baby to cold air, which can reduce the size of the lung airways and make it harder for him or her to breathe.
  • Avoid having your baby around people who have upper respiratory infections such as a cold or the flu.
  • Avoid exposing your baby to smoke from cigarettes or woodstoves, which irritates the lungs.
  • Keep all appointments for follow-up visits with your baby's doctor. At these visits, the doctor can detect problems with growth or development.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jennifer Merchant, MD - Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Last Revised April 12, 2013

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