Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

What is transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN)?

Transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN) is a mild breathing problem that affects babies soon after birth and lasts about three days:

  • "Transient" means temporary

  • "Tachypnea" means fast breathing rate

What causes transient tachypnea of the newborn?

Before your baby is born, he or she has fluid in the lungs. That fluid is absorbed into the lungs after they are born and start breathing on their own. If the fluid isn't absorbed fast enough, your baby can't take in oxygen very well and her or she breathes faster to try to get more air. This is TTN.

Who is affected by transient tachypnea of the newborn?

Only a small number of all newborns get TTN. Although premature babies can have TTN, most babies with this problem are full-term. Babies delivered by cesarean section are more likely to get TTN because the fluid in the lungs does not get squeezed out as it does during a vaginal birth.

What are the symptoms of transient tachypnea of the newborn?

Each baby may experience symptoms differently. Some symptoms of TTN are:

  • Rapid breathing rate (over 60 breaths per minute)

  • Grunting sounds with breathing

  • Flaring of the nostrils

  • Pulling in at the ribs with breathing (retractions)

The symptoms of TTN sometimes look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your baby's health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is transient tachypnea of the newborn diagnosed?

Chest X-rays are often used to help diagnose TTN. On X-ray, the lungs show a streaked appearance and appear overinflated. However, it may be difficult to if 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.

Treatment for transient tachypnea of the newborn

Specific treatment for transient tachypnea of the newborn will be determined by your baby's doctor based on:

  • How old your baby is

  • His or her overall health and medical history

  • How sick your baby is

  • How well your baby can handle specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • How long the condition is expected to last

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Supplemental oxygen. Oxygen is given to your baby by placing mask on his or her face or by putting your baby under an oxygen hood.

  • Blood tests. These tests measure the amount of oxygen in your baby's blood.

  • Continuous positive airway pressure. This treatment uses a mechanical breathing machine that pushes a continuous flow of air or oxygen to your baby's 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. This will help keep your baby from breathing in food from the mouth into the lungs.

Once TTN goes away, your baby should get better quickly. He or she should not have increased risk for other breathing or long-term problems.