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Breathing Problems for Baby after Birth

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

With Proper Care Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn Resolves Quickly

Learn about baby’s problems with breathing immediately after delivery.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn, or TTN, leads to breathing problems with newborn babies immediately after birth.

Before birth, babies have fluid in their lungs. This fluid usually goes away after birth. In some cases, though, the fluid doesn’t go away as quickly as it needs to. This is what leads to TTN.

A mother with asthma, diabetes, or who had a C-section without going into labor has an increased chance of having a child with TTN. A C-section is also called cesarean delivery, and is when a doctor uses surgery to deliver a child.

Symptoms of Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

Symptoms of TTN normally occur in a baby within just two hours of delivery. These may include:

  • Bluish-colored skin

  • Breathing fast (More than 60 breaths per minute, or more than one breath each second)

  • Breathing hard

  • Muscles and skin appear to be caving in (between the ribs or under ribcage)

  • Baby grunts went breathing out

  • Nostrils open wide when taking a breath

These symptoms will usually last between 12-72 hours.

Testing for TTN

There is not a single test for TTN. However, you doctor may be able to tell if your child has TTN with an exam.

There are other things that can also cause similar breathing problems to TTN, including pneumonia. Your doctor may want a chest X-ray showing changes in the lungs. The X-ray can help your doctor know if your baby has TTN or some other condition.

Treatment for TTN

Normally, TTN will go away be the time your baby is three days old. Until then, though, doctors can do treatments to help make sure your baby is getting enough nutrition and oxygen. This may include:

  • Controlling the temperature (Keeping baby from getting too cold or too hot.)

  • Providing extra oxygen (Making sure there’s enough oxygen in baby’s blood.)

  • IV or feed tube (Babies having trouble breathing may not be able to drink from a bottle or nurse. A feeding tube goes into baby’s nose or mouth, down through the throat and into your child’s stomach. It’s used to put formula or breast milk directly into your baby’s stomach. An IV goes into a vein. This thin tube carries a sugary mixture into your baby’s bloodstream.)

  • Giving antibiotics (These medicines help prevent infections or stop infections that do happen.)
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