Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a mild breathing problem. It affects babies during the first hours of life. Transient means it is short-lived. Tachypnea means fast breathing rate. The problem usually goes away without treatment in 3 days or less.
Before babies are born, they have fluid in their lungs. Babies reabsorb some of that fluid because of hormone changes that happen before birth. More fluid gets reabsorbed as they pass through the birth canal during delivery. The rest of the fluid is absorbed into the lungs after they are born and start breathing on their own. If the fluid isn't absorbed fast enough or if they have too much fluid in the lungs, they can't take in oxygen very well. Babies with this problem have to breathe faster and harder to get enough oxygen into the lungs.
Only a small number of all newborn babies get this breathing problem. Although premature babies can have it, most babies with this problem are full-term. Babies delivered by C-section (without labor) are more likely to have this condition. This is because without the hormone changes of labor the fluid in the lungs is still there. The baby has to work to reabsorb it after birth. Babies of moms with asthma and diabetes may also be more likely to have this condition.
Symptoms may occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of this breathing problem can look like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your baby's healthcare provider may use a chest X-ray to help diagnose the problem. On X-ray, the lungs look streaked and overinflated. The symptoms of this breathing problem may be similar to other more serious respiratory problems. These include lung infection (pneumonia) or premature lungs (respiratory distress syndrome). Often transient tachypnea of the newborn is diagnosed when symptoms go away in the first few hours to days of life.
Usually the problem goes away on its own within about 3 days. Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment may include:
Once the problem goes away, your baby should get better quickly. He or she should not have a higher risk for other breathing or long-term problems.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: