Navigate Up

Pediatric Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Z

Print This Page

Transient tachypnea - newborn

Transient tachypnea is a respiratory disorder usually seen shortly after delivery in full- or near-term babies.

  • Transient means it is short-lived (usually less than 24 hours).
  • Tachypnea means rapid breathing (most normal newborns take 40 - 60 breaths per minute).

Alternative Names

TTN; Wet lungs - newborns; Retained fetal lung fluid; Transient RDS; Prolonged transition

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

As the baby grows in the womb, the lungs make a special fluid. This fluid fills the developing baby's lungs and helps them grow. When the baby is born at term, chemicals released during labor tell the lungs to stop making this special fluid. The baby's lungs start removing or reabsorbing it.

The first few breaths your baby takes after delivery fill the lungs with air and help to clear most of the remaining lung fluid.

Leftover fluid in the lungs causes the baby to breathe rapidly and makes it harder for the baby to keep the small air sacs of the lungs open.

Transient tachypnea is more likely to occur in babies who were:

  • Born before 38 weeks gestation
  • Delivered by C-section
  • Born to a mother with diabetes

Symptoms

Newborns with transient tachypnea have breathing problems soon after birth, usually within 1 - 2 hours.

Symptoms include:

  • Bluish skin color (cyanosis)
  • Rapid breathing, which may occur with noises such as grunting
  • Flaring nostrils or movements between the ribs or breastbone known as retractions

Signs and tests

The mother’s pregnancy and labor history are important to make the diagnosis.

Tests performed on the baby may include:

  • Blood count and blood culture to rule out infection
  • Chest x-ray to rule out other causes of breathing problems
  • Continuous monitoring of the baby's oxygen levels, breathing, and heart rate

Transient tachypnea is usually diagnosed after the baby is monitored for 1 or 2 days.

Treatment

Your baby will be given oxygen to keep the blood oxygen level stable. Your baby will usually need the most oxygen within a few hours after birth. Then the baby's oxygen needs will begin to decrease. Most infants with transient tachypnea improve in less than 12 - 24 hours.

Very rapid breathing can cause the baby to feed poorly. Fluids and nutrients will be given through a vein until your baby improves. Your baby may also receive antibiotics until the health care provider is sure there is no infection. Rarely, babies with transient tachypnea may have lung problems that last for as long as 1 week.

Expectations (prognosis)

The condition usually goes away within 24 - 48 hours after delivery. Babies who have had transient tachypnea usually have no further problems from the condition, and do not need special care or follow-up other than their routine pediatrician visits.

References

Dudell GG, Stoll BJ. Respiratory tract disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 95.

Updated: 11/14/2011

Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com