Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn: How Dangerous Is It?

Transient tachypnea of the newborn. a woman with a newborn

Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a disease that occurs in the first hours of a child’s life. It is characterized by rapid shallow breathing.

This condition most often develops in children born by caesarean section. At physiological labor through the birth canal, 2-3 days before and during the birth, fluid from the lungs of the fetus is absorbed into the blood. With caesarean section, this process is weakened. Therefore, an excess of intrauterine fluid remains in the lungs. Lung tissue puffiness occurs and the ability of the lungs to provide the body with oxygen decreases. In response, rapid shallow breathing (tachypnea) develops. As the fluid is absorbed from the lungs, this state passes.

More About Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

From Greek, tachypnea is translated as rapid breathing. According to medical definition, this is respiration with a significant acceleration, which can last 10 minutes or more. The number of cycles, that is, exhalations-inhalations, is mostly determined by the patient’s age. In infants it can reach up to 85 times or more. When you inhale the depth remains insignificant.

Such manifestations are called inspiratory dyspnea, “dog breathing,” moist lungs, etc. In newborn children, this disease in most cases occurs due to insufficient oxygen in the bloodstream.

Respiratory distress occurs in babies after they are born. The problem is inherent in both full-term and premature babies.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn. Premature newborn baby girl

The transient nature of the problem indicates that the condition is short-lived. It should be noted that, originally it was believed that this disease often occurs in full-term babies, and only sometimes in premature babies. But, after a study conducted in Italy, it was found that all newborns are equally affected. The risk group includes children born by caesarean section, wrapped in an umbilical cord and with other problems:

  • Excessive intake of fluids by the mother;
  • Fetal weight at birth below 2.5 kg;
  • Long childbirth or the birth of twins;
  • The use of vacuum;

In addition, the disease is more probable for babies that were born before 36-38 weeks or by a mother who has diabetes.

For comparison

In the womb, the lungs of the fetus are filled with fluid. It helps them grow. When a baby is born, it releases substances that prevent the production of this fluid. At this point, the baby’s lungs normally remove fluid. But they can as well absorb it. Then it gets difficult for the child to get rid of the liquid. Most of it remains and as a result, accelerated breathing is developed. In such cases, there are difficulties in breathing, wheezing, grunting, noise. There are movements between the ribs. Due to lack of oxygen, the skin acquires a bluish tint.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn. a newborn in the hospital

Symptoms of Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

  • Increased respiratory rate (60 or more per minute).
  • Noisy breathing.
  • Cyanosis of the skin.
  • Participation in the act of breathing of the auxiliary muscles (swelling of the wings of the nose, retraction of the intercostal spaces, retraction of the supraclavicular fossae).

The disease occurs in 1% of newborns. 43% of all cases of respiratory disorders in newborns are based on transient tachypnea. It may occur in both full-term and premature babies.

The Reasons

Risk factors for disease are:

Normally, fluid from the lungs of the fetus after birth is rapidly absorbed into the blood. When suction occurs slowly, transient tachypnea of the newborn develops. It is observed in children who are born on time or almost on time, especially by cesarean section.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn. a baby boy at the hospital

Also, immediately it should be noted that this type of violation is characterized by a benign and fairly easy course. All newborns are recovering. In medicine, this condition is called respiratory distress syndrome of the second type.

  • If the case is typical, then, as a rule, there is no asphyxia. Tachypnea takes place due to the involvement of muscles and the creation of a noisy exhalation.
  • If cyanosis is noted, it is usually moderate. The level of hypoxemia is easy, which is quickly eliminated by oxygen breathing.
  • Pulmonary insufficiency is absent. Liquid in the lungs can stay only a few hours.
  • Breathing is disturbed for 12 or less hours.


General examination of the newborn:

  • Increase in the frequency of respiratory movements (60 or more per minute);
  • Noisy breathing;
  • Cyanosis of the skin;
  • Participation in the act of breathing of the auxiliary muscles (swelling of the wings of the nose, retraction of the intercostal spaces, retraction of the supraclavicular fossae).
  • Listening to the lungs with a phonendoscope.
  • Radiography of the chest – allows you to identify changes in the lungs due to edema of the lung tissue.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn. Beautiful newborn baby in an incubator

Treatment of Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

The only method of treatment is oxygen therapy (oxygen is supplied with the help of special devices) until the symptoms of the disease are eliminated.

At the same time, some children need auxiliary breathing with positive airway pressure or a ventilator. As a rule, children fully recover within 1-3 days as the fluid is absorbed from the lungs.

If the manifestations are more severe with pulmonary and heart failure, with sepsis, asphyxia, then the doctor makes a decision according to the disease and individual characteristics. With infections of the bacterial type antibiotics are prescribed.

Complications and consequences

The prognosis is favorable. The disease resolves on its own or against the background of oxygen therapy within 2-3 days.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn. a family with a newborn

Prevention of transient tachypnea newborn

Prevention is possible from the side of the pregnant mother.

  • In the absence of medical contraindications, there should be natural birth (through the birth canal).
  • Monitoring pregnancy in order to prevent premature and rapid delivery:
  • Control of arterial (blood) pressure;
  • Regular visits to the obstetrician-gynecologist during pregnancy, timely registration in the antenatal clinic (up to 12 weeks of pregnancy);
  • Clear compliance with the instructions of the obstetrician-gynecologist during childbirth;
  • Timely and sufficient treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases of the reproductive system and associated diseases of organs and body systems;
  • Giving up bad habits (alcohol, smoking);
  • Proper nutrition (exclusion of salt, fried, smoked, canned products, use of fresh vegetables and fruits, vegetable oils, etc.).

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