Transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN) is a term for a mild respiratory problem of babies that begins after birth and lasts about three days:
It is thought that slow absorption of the fluid in the fetal lungs causes TTN. This fluid makes taking in oxygen harder and the baby breathes faster to compensate.
Only a small percentage of all newborns develop TTN. Although premature babies can have TTN, most babies with this problem are full-term. The condition may be more likely to develop in babies delivered by cesarean section because the fluid in the lungs does not get squeezed out as in a vaginal birth.
The following are the most common symptoms of transient tachypnea of the newborn. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Rapid breathing rate (over 60 breaths per minute)
Grunting sounds with breathing
Flaring of the nostrils
Retractions (pulling in at the ribs with breathing)
The symptoms of TTN may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your baby's doctor for a diagnosis.
Chest X-rays are often used to help diagnose TTN. On X-ray, the lungs show a streaked appearance and appear overinflated. X-rays are a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film. However, it may be difficult to tell whether the problem is TTN or another kind of respiratory problem, such as respiratory distress syndrome (also known as hyaline membrane disease). Often, TTN is diagnosed when symptoms suddenly resolve by the third day of life.
Specific treatment for transient tachypnea of the newborn will be determined by your baby's doctor based on:
Your baby's gestational age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your baby's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
Supplemental oxygen given by mask on the baby's face or by placing the baby under an oxygen hood
Blood tests (to measure blood oxygen levels)
Continuous positive airway pressure. A mechanical breathing machine that pushes a continuous flow of air or oxygen to the airways to help keep tiny air passages in the lungs open.
Tube feedings may also be necessary if the baby's breathing rate is too high, because of the risk of aspiration of the food.
Once TTN goes away, the baby usually recovers quickly and has no increased risk for additional respiratory problems or other chronic problems.