Chronic Lung Disease of Prematurity Symptoms & Causes

What causes chronic lung disease?

Lung injury and scarring, which may result in difficulty breathing and increased oxygen needs, can be caused by any of the following:

  • Prematurity, when your baby is born before the lungs, and especially the air sacs, are fully developed.
  • Oxygen use—high concentrations of oxygen can damage the cells of the lungs
  • Mechanical ventilation. Some premature babies require breathing machines, suctioning of the airways, and the use of a endotracheal tube, which is placed in the trachea and connected to a breathing machine.

What are the risk factors for developing CLD?

Chronic lung disease may occur if your child . . .

  • Is born at less than 34 weeks gestation
  • Has a birthweight of less than 4 pounds, 6.4 ounces
  • Has a family history of asthma
  • Other associated conditions include:
  • Pulmonary interstitial emphysema, a problem in which air leaks out of the airways into the spaces between the small air sacs of the lungs
  • Patent ductus arteriosus, a connection between the blood vessels of the heart and lungs that doesn’t close (as it should) after birth
  • Maternal womb infection


What are the symptoms of chronic lung disease?

Each baby may experience different symptoms, but common symptoms include:

  • Respiratory distress (rapid breathing, flaring of the nostrils, chest retractions
  • Continued need for mechanical ventilation or oxygen after your premature baby reaches 36 weeks gestation.