Management of hypoxemic respiratory failure and pulmonary hypertension in preterm infants

N. Ambalavanan, J. L. Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


While diagnoses of hypoxemic respiratory failure (HRF) and pulmonary hypertension (PH) in preterm infants may be based on criteria similar to those in term infants, management approaches often differ. In preterm infants, HRF can be classified as 'early' or 'late' based on an arbitrary threshold of 28 postnatal days. Among preterm infants with late HRF, the pulmonary vascular abnormalities associated with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) represent a therapeutic challenge for clinicians. Surfactant, inhaled nitric oxide (iNO), sildenafil, prostacyclin and endothelin receptor blockers have been used to manage infants with both early and late HRF. However, evidence is lacking for most therapies currently in use. Chronic oral sildenafil therapy for BPD-associated PH has demonstrated some preliminary efficacy. A favorable response to iNO has been documented in some preterm infants with early PH following premature prolonged rupture of membranes and oligohydramnios. Management is complicated by a lack of clear demarcation between interventions designed to manage respiratory distress syndrome, prevent BPD and treat HRF. Heterogeneity in clinical phenotype, pathobiology and genomic underpinnings of BPD pose challenges for evidence-based management recommendations. Greater insight into the spectrum of disease phenotypes represented by BPD can optimize existing therapies and promote development of new treatments. In addition, better understanding of an individual's phenotype, genotype and biomarkers may suggest targeted personalized interventions. Initiatives such as the Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program provide a framework to address these challenges using genetic, environmental, physiological and clinical data as well as large repositories of patient samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S20-S27
JournalJournal of Perinatology
Issue numbers2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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