Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)

Treatment for BPD

Treatment is used to help grow new air sacs to replace the ones that are damaged.

Most babies with BPD get better over time. As your child's lungs improve and mature, they will have fewer problems with their breathing. Most children will outgrow their problems by the time they’re 2-3 years old and may not need further treatment. But in more severe cases, this may take longer.

Your child’s treatment will depend on how severe their BPD is and any complications they have.

Oxygen

If your child has low blood oxygen levels they may need additional oxygen at home. Most infants with BPD only need additional oxygen until they are about one. 

Water pills called diuretics

These can help move excess water out of the lungs by making your child wee more.

Reliever medications called bronchodilators

Your child may be given an inhaler to help relax the muscles of their airways when they’re having difficulty breathing. 

Anti-inflammatory medication

These medications can help prevent the lungs becoming inflamed and make it less likely your child will have attacks where they struggle to breathe.

The most common anti-inflammatory medication is steroids. They are most powerful when taken by mouth or by injection but they can cause side effects, particularly in young babies. Using an inhaler or nebuliser to take steroids means they go directly to your child’s lungs. This can reduce side effects but there is uncertainty about how effective they are in BPD.

What else can I do to help?

  • Do not smoke, or let others smoke, around your child and try to avoid exposing your child to a lot of air pollution. Have a look at our information on risks to children’s lung health.
     
  • Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date and ask your doctor about the flu vaccine and vaccination against RSV.
     
  • Make sure they have a healthy diet. Breathing, fighting infection and coughing can use up your child’s energy. Their immune system will need plenty of protein and vitamins to fight infection. The NHS Choices website has useful information about feeding your child.
     
  • Avoid infection where possible. Teach your children to use a disposable tissue and wash their hands after coughing and sneezing and make sure that you do too. We’ve got more information about what you can do to avoid infection.

Will my child need to go to hospital?

The damage to their lungs causes most problems in children with BPD in the first 2-3 years of their life, so you child is most likely to need to go to hospital then.

Your child may also need to go to hospital if they develop an infection or have trouble breathing.

Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.