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Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

What is transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN)?

TTN is a medical term for a newborn baby who breathes very fast because there is too much fluid in the baby’s lungs.

What is the cause?

While inside the mother, a baby's lungs are normally filled with fluid. The process of labor and vaginal birth squeezes the baby's chest wall and prepares the lungs for the first breath. After birth, the baby takes his first breath and the lungs fill with air, replacing the fluid. The baby's blood absorbs the lung fluid, or the baby coughs the fluid out. The fluid is usually cleared out of the lungs over several hours.

Some babies have extra fluid or absorb the fluid too slowly. The fluid makes the lungs stiff, causing the baby to breathe faster and harder than normal. Babies born by C-section, or babies born after fast labors are more likely to have TTN. It is also more common in babies born to mothers with diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

This extra fluid shortly after birth causes the baby to:

  • Breathe fast (more than 60 times a minute)
  • Pull in his chest wall with each breath
  • Have a bluish tinge around the lips, because the baby needs extra oxygen.

How is it diagnosed?

TTN is usually diagnosed based on how the baby looks and how he sounds. Your baby may also have a chest X-ray or blood gas test. This can help the doctor decide if baby has TTN and if he needs to be given oxygen.

Other lab tests may be done to make sure that the breathing problems are not caused by something other than TTN.

How is it treated?

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A baby who has breathing problems will stay in the NICU. He is attached to monitors that constantly measures heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen. Babies with TTN may need a small amount of extra oxygen
  • IV fluids. If a baby breathes over 60 to 80 times a minute or is working hard to breathe, he is given fluids and nutrition through an IV. As soon as the breathing rate is normal, the baby will be allowed to nurse or drink from a bottle.
  • IV antibiotics. Every newborn with breathing problems is suspected of having an infection. Babies are often given IV antibiotics until blood tests and X-rays show that there is no infection. This usually takes 48 to 72 hours.

How long will it last?

Babies who have TTN usually recover completely within 12 to 24 hours after birth but can take up to 72 hours. They have no long-lasting side effects.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-04-17
Last reviewed: 2012-04-16
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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