The development of pulmonary hypertension is one of the adverse factors in the outcome of infants with chronic neonatal lung disese (CNLD). The purpose of this cross sectional study was to evaluate the prevalence and degree of pulmonary hypertension in a cohort of survivors of CNLD stable in air. Pulmonary artery pressure was assessed using its inverse correlation with the ratio of time to peak velocity and right ventricular ejection time (TPV:RVET) as measured from Doppler velocity time signals in the main pulmonary artery. A normal ratio is > or = 0.35, a possibly low ratio lies between 0.31 and 0.35, and a definitely low ratio is < 0.31. The subjects were divided into three groups. Group A comprised 58 infants with oxygen dependence and an abnormal chest radiograph at 28 days of age; group B comprised 18 infants with oxygen dependence and a normal chest radiograph at 28 days of age; and group C (controls) comprised 21 siblings without oxygen dependence by 10 days and a normal chest radiograph. There were significant differences in mean (SD) TPV:RVET ratio between group A 0.346 (0.045), group B 0.335 (0.057), and groups A + B 0.344 (0.048) when compared with group C controls 0.385 (0.034). The prevalence of a definitely low TPV:RVET ratio suggesting a raised pulmonary artery pressure was 19% in group A, 39% in group B, 24% in groups A + B, and none in group C. There were no clinical signs of pulmonary hypertension in any patient studied. Stepwise multiple linear regression failed to find significant associations with antenatal or neonatal putative risk factors. Additionally, there were no associations with childhood respiratory morbidity. These data suggest a high prevalence of subclinical pulmonary hypertension in CNLD patients. It is speculated that occult hypoxaemia may be occurring in this group of infants.
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