PPHN Symptoms

What are the signs and common symptoms of PPHN?

In general, a baby with PPHN breathes abnormally fast and needs extra oxygen to stay pink after delivery. This condition worsens quickly and the newborn baby needs more and more oxygen to stay pink.  The following are the most common symptoms of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently. When a baby has one or more symptoms of PPHN, radiographic imaging and blood tests are needed for a doctor to have sufficient information about the condition of the newborn to confirm a diagnosis of PPHN.

PPHN symptoms in physical appearance of a newborn

There are several common symptoms of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn that can be seen by a parent when they look at their baby. Because PPHN symptoms also can be caused by other medical conditions, a diagnosis of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn cannot be based solely on a newborn having one or more common symptoms of PPHN.

  • Rapid breathing (Tachypnea): Abnormally fast breathing. A respiratory rate that is too rapid. The prefix tachy- means swift or rapid; it comes from the Greek word tachys, meaning “swift.” The word ending -pnea denotes a relationship to breathing; it comes from the Greek pnoia, meaning breath.
  • Rapid heart rate (Tachycardia): An arrhythmia (disorder of the heart rate) in which the heart beats too fast (pulse is too high).
  • Breathlessness (Respiratory Distress): Breathing problems occur when a baby’s respiratory system is unable to keep up with the baby’s need for oxygen.  Signs may include flaring nostrils and grunting.
  • Blueish skin coloring (Cyanosis): The name cyanosis comes from the color cyan, which comes from kyanous, the Greek word for blue. Cyanosis is a blue coloration of the skin and mucous membranes that occurs when there is not enough oxygen in the blood.
  • Sluggish, inactive behavior (Lethargy): Lacking energy.
  • Sweating

Medical signs of PPHN on examination and testing

  • Heart murmur: The newborn has an extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat.
  • Insufficient oxygenation of the blood: Low oxygen saturation that doesn’t improve when the newborn is given 100% oxygen.
  • Low blood pressure (Hypotension)
  • Weak pulse (Sometimes called “thready peripheral pulses”)
  • Swelling in the hands or feet (Edema)
  • Enlarged liver (Hepatomegaly)

The symptoms of PPHN may resemble other conditions or medical problems.  Doctors caring for newborns perform specific tests to determine if the baby’s symptoms are the result of PPHN. If your baby has been diagnosed with PPHN and you have questions, contact us today and let us help you. Use the contact form on the right side of this page or call us toll-free at 800-845-6913.