Early characteristics of infants with pulmonary hypertension in a referral neonatal intensive care unit

Shilpa Vyas-Read, Usama Kanaan, Prabhu Rv Shankar, Jane Stremming, Curtis Travers, David P. Carlton, Anne Fitzpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Approximately 8-23% of premature infants develop pulmonary hypertension (PH), and this diagnosis confers a higher possibility of mortality. As a result, professional societies recommend PH screening in premature infants. However, the risk factors for and the outcomes of PH may differ depending on the timing of its diagnosis, and little evidence is available to determine at-risk infants in the referral neonatal population. The objective of this study was to define clinical and echocardiographic characteristics of infants with pulmonary hypertension during the neonatal hospital course and at or near-term. Methods: Infants who had the following billing codes: < 32 weeks, birth weight < 1500 g, neonatal unit, and echocardiograph had records abstracted from a data warehouse at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The outcome was defined as late PH on the final echocardiogram for all patients, and, separately, for patients with multiple studies. Descriptive statistics, univariable, and multivariable models were evaluated, and odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals are expressed below as (OR, CI). Results: 556 infants were included in the overall study, 59 had PH on their final echocardiogram (11%). In multivariable analyses, atrial septal defect (2.9, 1.4-6.1), and intrauterine growth restriction (2.7, 1.2-6.3) increased the odds of late PH, whereas caffeine therapy decreased PH (0.4, 0.2-0.8). When the analyses were restricted to 32 infants who had multiple echocardiograms during their hospitalization, the association between atrial septal defect (5.9, 2.0-16.5) and growth restriction (3.7, 1.3-10.7) and late PH was strengthened, but the effect of caffeine therapy was no longer significant. In this smaller subgroup, infants with late PH had their final echocardiogram at a median of 116 days of life, and 42-74% of them had right ventricular pathology. Conclusions: Early clinical variables are associated with PH persistence in a referral neonatal population. Identification of early clinical factors may help guide the ascertainment of infant risk for late PH, and may aid in targeting sub-groups that are most likely to benefit from PH screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number163
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 11 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Atrial septal defect
  • Caffeine
  • Growth restriction
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Very low birth weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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