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Atelectasis in Infants
- Congenital—present at birth
- Acquired—caused by an acquired condition
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- Blockage in the airways—as a result of inhaled stool during birth, an inhaled object, or a mucus plug that keeps air from moving into the lung sacs
- Lung infections—may cause fluid build-up that blocks air to the lung sacs
- Lack of surfactant (common in premature infants)—surfactant is a fluid that lines the inside of the lungs and helps them function properly
- Impaired breathing—air is not pulled deep enough into the lungs to open all sacs
- Damage to nerve and muscles that control breathing—may prevent coughing, deep breathing, or yawning
- Inhaled meconium or amniotic fluid
- Prolonged or difficult labor
- Birth injury to the central nervous system
- Premature birth
- Lung condition or infection—particularly if coughing is impaired
- Injury to chest wall
- Having anesthesia
- Inhaling a foreign object, such as a peanut or marble
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Being on ventilator—air does not move into lungs in a normal pattern
- Rapid breathing
- Taking shallow breaths
- Decreased chest movement during breathing
- Blueness of the skin
- Breathing masks or treatments to help keep airways open
- Suction to help remove secretions
- Breathing support with ventilator—to take over or assist breathing until your baby is better
- Open the airways
- Treat the disease that caused the collapse
- Treat an infection
- Be careful with small objects around infants.
- Work with your doctor to treat or manage any lung conditions your baby has.
Take steps to avoid premature birth such as:
- Get regular prenatal care.
- During pregnancy, eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Get adequate activity.
- Medication to improve surfactant in premature babies
- Treating and monitoring lung infections
- Careful management of necessary oxygen or breathing therapy in infants
American Lung Association http://www.lung.org
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation http://kidshealth.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
The Lung Association of Canada http://www.lung.ca
Braverman M, Brown S. Congenital Atelectasis Discussion and Case Presentation. Radiology. December 2012, 265(3);1144.
Collapsed lung (atelectasis). Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Collapsed-Lung-Atelectasis.aspx. Accessed August 21, 2014.
What is atelectasis? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/atl. Updated January 13, 2012. Accessed August 21, 2014.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 08/21/2014