The evolution of disease: chronic lung disease of infancy and pulmonary hypertension

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Purpose of review

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) or chronic lung disease of infancy BPD was originally described 50 years ago, in 1967 by Northway et al. This article possesses two fundamental objectives to provide: a brief historical perspective on BPD; and an update relative to current notions of epidemiology, pathophysiology, evaluation, and clinical management of BPD complicated by vascular disease. The review highlights areas of consensus and ongoing uncertainty.

Recent findings

The clinical cause and presentation of infants with BPD has evolved over the past several decades. Considerable improvements in neonatal care, including surfactant replacement therapies, antenatal steroids, nutritional support, ventilator management, and attention to the potential of oxygen toxicity, underlie the evolution of BPD. Most children with BPD improve over time. However, in the presence of vascular disease, the morbidity and mortality associated with BPD increases considerably. Though recent recommendations include procuring an echocardiogram to screen for pulmonary hypertension in infants with established BPD, there is less agreement surrounding the additional diagnostic and putative treatment modalities for infants with BPD and pulmonary hypertension. The indications, rationale, potential benefits, and risks of vasodilator therapy in BPD are discussed.


The pediatric community has 50 years of experience with BPD. Past experience should be used to inform present and future diagnostic and treatment strategies. This review seeks to arm the clinician with evidence that motivates a physiology-based approach to the management of infants with BPD and pulmonary hypertension.

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