Natural History of Postnatal Cardiopulmonary Adaptation in Infants Born Extremely Preterm and Risk for Death or Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

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Abstract

Objective

To study the natural history of postnatal cardiopulmonary adaptation in infants born extremely preterm and establish its association with death or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).

Study design

This was a prospective, observational, cohort study of infants born extremely preterm (<29 weeks). Initial echocardiogram was performed at <48 hours of life, followed by serial echocardiograms every 24-48 hours until 14 days of life. Resolution or no resolution of pulmonary hypertension (PH) at 72-96 hours was considered normal or delayed postnatal cardiopulmonary adaptation, respectively. PH between 96 hours and 14 days was defined as subsequent PH. Elevated pulmonary artery pressure throughout the 14 days of life was considered persistent PH. BPD was assessed at 36 weeks of postmenstrual age.

Results

Sixty infants were enrolled; 2 died before a sequential echocardiogram could be done at 72-96 hours. Normal and delayed cardiopulmonary adaptation were noted in 26 (45%) and 32 (55%) infants, respectively. Five patterns of postnatal cardiopulmonary adaptation were recognized: normal without subsequent PH (n = 20), normal with subsequent PH (n = 6), delayed adaptation without subsequent PH (n = 6), delayed adaptation with subsequent PH (n = 16), and persistent PH (n = 10). Infants with delayed cardiopulmonary adaptation were of lower gestation and birth weight and required prolonged ventilation and supplemental oxygen (P < .05). On multivariate analysis, the incidence of death or BPD was significantly greater among infants with delayed adaptation (P < .001).

Conclusion

Infants born extremely preterm have normal or delayed postnatal cardiopulmonary adaptation that can be complicated by subsequent or persistent PH. Delayed cardiopulmonary adaptation is associated independently with death or BPD.

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