A rare and life-threatening condition called Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN) affects approximately 1 in 500 newborns. It causes low oxygen levels and high pressure in the pulmonary arteries due to the blood vessels in the lungs failing to dilate after birth. Doctors use a hormone called vasopressin as a rescue therapy when other treatments fail to improve oxygenation and blood pressure in newborns with severe PPHN.
A study conducted by doctors at Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital in Pune enrolled 31-term newborns with severe PPHN who were experiencing refractory hypoxia and refractory systemic hypotension despite standard treatments. The physicians used vasopressin as rescue therapy based on clinical judgment and standard practices. Out of the 31 newborns, 29 responded positively to the treatment. The researchers collected data on various variables before and after vasopressin administration and recorded any adverse events associated with its use.
The study’s results show promise for the use of vasopressin as rescue therapy in term newborns with severe PPHN. However, because it was an observational study, the results may be subject to confounding factors, such as differences in the severity of illness or the underlying cause of PPHN between the newborns in the study. A randomized controlled trial would be needed to establish a causal relationship between vasopressin and improved outcomes in this population.
Dr. Sachin Shah, Director of Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Services at Surya Hospitals Pune, said the study’s findings may help inform clinical practice and guide future research in the use of vasopressin as rescue therapy in term newborns with severe PPHN. The study’s strength is its prospective design and pragmatic approach to relatively uncommon but life-threatening problems where clinicians are required to do “out of the box” thinking in a resource-limited setting.