Neonatal ventilation is very complex. Some infants need help breathing after birth, requiring either resuscitation, intubation or several other forms of less-invasive breathing assistance. This requires that medical personnel properly monitor CO2 and oxygen levels, blood acidity levels, ventilation pressures and other factors very precisely in order to make sure that the baby is receiving the proper gases in correct proportions. Improper ventilation can result in retinopathy of prematurity (which leads to childhood blindness), lung injury, oxygen deprivation-related injury, PVL, collapsed lungs and other health issues.
Many babies need help with breathing after birth. Breathing mismanagement or giving the baby too much or too little oxygen can cause permanent injuries such as cerebral palsy (CP), hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
Sometimes babies have to be resuscitated right after they are born, which means a little mask is put over their nose and mouth and air with extra oxygen added to it is pumped into their lungs. Some babies have long-term breathing problems, such as apnea, apnea of prematurity, respiratory distress or problems with lung compliance because their lungs are premature. It is extremely important to properly monitor a baby who is getting help with breathing. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are the gases that are measured in a baby’s blood to make sure she is not getting too much or too little oxygen, or that her blood doesn’t have too much or too little carbon dioxide. In most cases, too much carbon dioxice (CO2) will cause the blood to be acidic and the baby will have a low pH. If there is too little CO2 in the baby’s blood, the pH will typically be higher than normal. Abnormal levels of oxygen (O2) and CO2 can cause permanent brain damage, such as cerebral palsy and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Giving a baby too much O2 or having huge fluctuations in the baby’s O2 levels can cause eye damage called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which can even lead to blindness if severe or not diagnosed early.