Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

Transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN or TTNB) is a mild respiratory problem seen in babies. The problem starts soon after birth. It lasts for 3 days. Transient tachypnea means temporary (transient) fast breathing (tachypnea). Transient tachypnea of the newborn is also known as wet lung or type 2 respiratory distress syndrome. Babies with TTN make a complete recovery. Some babies with TTN may be at risk for asthma later in childhood.

CAUSES

Transient tachypnea occurs when there is too much fluid in the lungs after birth. A special fluid (amniotic) is normally found in the lungs of fetuses. Before and during labor, the body removes most of this fluid from the lungs. As the baby takes the first few breaths, air fills the lungs and remaining fluid is cleared from the lungs. The rest may be cleared by cough. Transient tachypnea occurs when either the fluid is removed too slowly or incompletely. This problem occurs more often in:

  • Caesarean deliveries.

  • Very quick ("precipitous") normal vaginal deliveries.

  • Premature infants.

  • Babies that are either smaller or larger than expected.

  • Babies born to mothers with diabetes or asthma.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of TTN include:

  • Tachypnea.

  • Grunting or moaning sounds when the baby exhales.

  • Flaring of the nostrils.

  • Sucking in of the skin between the ribs or breastbone when breathing (retractions).

  • Bluish color of the skin on the face or lips (cyanosis).

DIAGNOSIS

Transient tachypnea is usually diagnosed with a physical exam and a chest X-ray. The caregiver may also use:

  • Pulse oximetry. This is a monitor to see how much oxygen is getting into your baby's blood.

  • Blood tests to check how well your baby's lungs are working.

  • Blood culture. This is a blood test to look for infection that can sometimes look like TTN.

TREATMENT

Most babies with TTN improve in 12 to 24 hours. The caregiver may treat your baby with the following:

  • Oxygen to make sure enough oxygen gets into the baby's blood.

  • Fluids through a vein if your baby is too uncomfortable to feed.

  • Ventilator support if your baby's breathing is not working well enough, despite the extra oxygen. This support may be given through a tube in the nose or a tube placed into the windpipe (trachea).

  • Antibiotics are sometimes given until test results show no sign of an infection.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Your baby will need no special care after recovery from TTN.