When babies are born, it’s a big change in environment for them. From a watery cocoon for them inside their mother’s womb to breathing in air for the first time, newborn babies adapt very well to this change. However, sometimes, newborns might struggle to breathe and most of the times, the problem gets resolved on its own.
Yet, this could be indicative of congenital lung disorders. These could be lung disorders or lung malformations that are known to occur while the child is still in the mother’s womb. Congenital lung disorders, about 10% of them are diagnosed at birth whole about 14% tend to show up by the time the child reaches the age of 15. The other chunk of congenital lung disorders is discovered during prenatal ultrasounds.
There are mainly four types of congenital lung disorders that affect children.
The bronchogenic cysts are known to develop on the oesophagus or trachea, but are also, at times found on the lower lobes of the child’s lung. Bronchogenic cysts affect the airways, especially when they become infected or their growth becomes too large.
Congenital cystic adenomatoid malformations –
Also known as CCAMs, this type of congenital lung disorder forms when the lung tissues in the baby oversee an abnormal growth (significant) than usual. In some cases, there could be several CCAMs while others might have only one. In this condition, there are cysts, which are known to fill with fluid or solid masses in the lungs. This disorder also causes air sacs in the lungs to develop abnormally, while CCAMs are usually formed in one lobe of the lung.
This is a rare condition in children, although is known to affect drastically. The Lobar emphysema disorder is known to cause interference with the child’s airways as it traps airflow while breathing. This results in the overinflation of the lobes of the lung.
Pulmonary sequestrations are masses of lung tissues that are solid in nature. These do not connect to any of the airways in the lungs or the blood supply. The can be found inside the lungs or sometimes outside of it, mostly in the chest or stomach areas.
Symptoms of congenital lung disorders :
- Rapid breathing
- Difficult breathing followed by pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pneumonia that is persistent/recurring
Diagnosis and Treatments :
In most cases, a congenital lung disorder is found in babies while the prenatal ultrasounds are conducted on the mother. This is also because these problems in most cases are formed while the child is still inside the mother’s womb.
There are different ways of diagnosis, as mentioned above, prenatal tests become a vital part in determining a particular disorder. Doctors also use techniques like a CT scan, MRI or echocardiograms to assess the problem. The most critical things doctors look for is the size of the cysts or the complications it might be posing. Chest X-rays are another option to determine these disorders.
Doctors usually recommend treatments based on the kind of disorder they find the child affected with. There are different, individualized treatments, depending on other factors such as the time of detection or the severity of the situation. For instance, smaller cysts will have no effects on the child or their breathing patterns at all needs no immediate treatment. However, there are the larger ones that could also pose a threat to life and needs to be addressed immediately.
Some of the treatment options include :
- Corticosteroids for the unborn child
- Cyst removal surgeries
- Thoracoscopy (minimally invasive surgery)
Most doctors tend to wait for at least 6 months to 1 year before performing a surgical procedure on children, because doing the same at a younger age than that may pose a life-threatening problem or even create further complications in the lungs. While medications are known to work, a surgery becomes essential when the cysts or mass formations in the lungs are much more significant.
About the Doctor:
Dr J. Raghunath Reddy, Consulting Pulmonologist at Sunshine Hospitals has been a revered practitioner in the field. His vast experiences in many other sections such as Critical Care & Sleep, Emergency and General Medicine has helped the hospital dealing with some complex cases before. He is trained in interventions like Bronchoscopy, Thoracoscopy, EBUS (Endobronchial Ultrasound) and Rigid Bronchoscopy. Overall Dr J.Raghunath Reddy offers a wide range of expertise and treatment solutions in Pulmonology.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.