As a parent or guardian of a child diagnosed with persistent pulmonary hypertension, you and your family members are undoubtedly asking the questions, “How do we fix it?” and “What is the next step?”
Designing a Treatment Program
Your neonatologist will spearhead your child’s treatment and consult with other specialists to design a targeted plan of action. The immediate objective is to improve your child’s blood oxygen content and protect against organ damage.
The first course of action usually involves assisted ventilation, where oxygen is administered directly through a mechanical ventilator inserted into the trachea. This should effectively combat the low oxygen saturation.
If your child has any adjunct conditions that contributed to or exacerbated the PPHN, such as pneumonia, infection, or anemia, treatment for these problems will be given.
Other treatment options for PPHN include:
- High frequency oscillatory ventilation to improve respiratory function and increase blood oxygen levels
- Inhaled nitric oxide gas to improve blood flow in the lungs
- Supplemental oxygen via inhalation
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) surgery to get oxygen to the blood, organs, and brain during lung or heart failure
- Sodium bicarbonate to treat narrowed blood vessels in the lungs
Cost of PPHN Treatment
Today, only 20% of children diagnosed with PPHN experience long-term health problems from this disease. Children with long-term PPHN problems require careful monitoring to ensure the cells of their body are getting enough oxygen and that breathing remains normal. Continuous supervision and ongoing treatments can climb into the hundred-thousand-dollar range very quickly. Then there is the possibility that you may need to treat for PPHN-related conditions like seizure disorders, developmental delays, hearing loss, and speech dysfunction in the future.
A lifetime of PPHN care can be very costly, and you need to be financially prepared for any scenario.