Scoring System for Chronic Oxygen Dependency in Premature Newborns

For parent of a premature infant, the weeks and months following your child’s birth can be a time of high stress especially as it relates to your newborn’s cardiopulmonary development. If you are struggling to understand and manage your premature infant’s respiratory complications, one area of education you may want to pursue is in the scoring system a pediatrician may use for your child’s oxygen dependency.

Chronic oxygen dependence, also known as “COD”, is a common health complication among children born prematurely. In fact, most children born in the latter part of the second trimester and first part of the third trimester will experience COD for a long period of time after birth. Because COD can expand into childhood and even adolescence, as the parent of a premature infant, it is important to become well educated in not only the treatment of the respiratory complication but also fully understand how the complication may be evaluated by your child’s pediatrician.

Immediately after your child’s pre-term birth, the pediatrician and associated neonatal specialists will not conclude your child will live with chronic oxygen dependency. Often, the complication is not diagnosed until many months after birth. In using a simple scoring system, however, your child’s pediatrician can diagnose COD as early as 28 days post-birth. To achieve optimally low results in the scoring process, however, some specialists will recommend the use of corticosteroids in the first week after birth. In doing so, your child’s COD scoring results may be lower and this, ultimately, may lead to lower risk for developing significant symptoms of chronic oxygen dependency into childhood and adolescence. Therefore, if your child is about to undergo scoring for COD, ask about the implication steroids may play in the results your pediatrician may obtain.

And what results may lead to a higher COD risk? For some premature infants, if early intubation and ventilation was used in the NICU, there is some degree of risk this may lead to long term chronic oxygen dependency complications. Again, if your newborn is about to undergo the scoring test for COD, ask your cardiopulmonary and respiratory specialists how intubation and ventilation in NICU may have made a long term impact on the scoring results.

With so many health risks associated with premature birth, parents are often overwhelmed by the most immediate health risk to their child and fail to look to the long term health issues. Because chronic oxygen dependency is a significant health risk, be certain you are familiar with the scoring system used for COD and how is may be manipulated by early medical care in the NICU.

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