Respiratory distress is one of the most common reason babies are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), affecting up to 7 percent of babies who were born full-term. Dr. Lia Gravari, a neonatologist at Children’s Minnesota, provided her expert insights about neonatal pneumonia, one of the leading causes of neonatal respiratory distress in a question-and-answer style article in Infectious Disease Advisor.
How is pneumonia diagnosed in neonates, and what are some of the key diagnostic challenges in these cases?
According to Dr. Gravari, diagnosing pneumonia in newborns requires a combination of clinical, radiographic and microbiologic findings. Symptoms associated with pneumonia are not unique to this infection, so it’s important to use a combination of the three strategies to get an accurate diagnosis.
What is the recommended treatment approach in these cases, and what are some of the main challenges?
Dr. Lia Gravari, neonatologist
Antibiotic use is the typical treatment approach, but antibiotic resistance can pose a challenge for treatment. However, many pneumonia infections can be prevented, or in the least reduced with hand hygiene and proper maintenance of respiratory equipment. Infections in infancy can lead to a whole host of challenges later in life, including developmental delays, longer hospital stays and pulmonary hypertension, Dr. Gravari explained. So, it’s essential to focus on preventing respiratory infections whenever possible.
What are remining research and educational needs pertaining to neonatal pneumonia?
“I think empowering nurses, respiratory technicians, physicians and all of our support staff to educate patients about the ways to prevent infection is really important,” said Dr. Gravari. “We all have the power and responsibility to make a difference.”
To learn more about neonatal pneumonia, read Dr. Gravari’s answers in full: Expert Q&A: Neonatal Pneumonia.
Neonatology at Children’s Minnesota
The neonatal program at Children’s is the largest in the region. We have a team of nearly 500 doctors, surgeons and pediatric specialists who specialize in taking care of the smallest of patients. With nearly 200 beds especially equipped to take care of neonatal patients, we are able to welcome nearly 3,000 babies annually and provide life-saving care to those with high-risk conditions, in partnership with the Midwest Fetal Care Center.