Transient tachypnea of the newborn

Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a respiratory problem that can be seen in the newborn shortly after delivery. It is caused by retained fetal lung fluid due to impaired clearance mechanisms[1]. It is the most common cause of respiratory distress in term neonates.[2][3] It consists of a period of rapid breathing (higher than the normal range of 30-60 times per minute). Usually, this condition resolves over 24-72 hours. Treatment is supportive and may include supplemental oxygen and antibiotics. The chest x-ray shows hyperinflation of the lungs including prominent pulmonary vascular markings, flattening of the diaphragm, and fluid in the horizontal fissure of the right lung.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn
Other namesTransitory tachypnea of newborn


Due to the higher incidence of transient tachypnea of the newborn in infants delivered by caesarean section, it has been postulated that it could result from a delayed absorption of fetal lung fluid from the pulmonary lymphatic system. The increased fluid in the lungs leads to increased airway resistance and reduced lung compliance. It is thought this could be from lower levels of circulating catecholamines after a caesarean section, which are believed to be necessary to alter the function of the ENaC channel to absorb excess fluid from the lungs. Pulmonary immaturity has also been proposed as a causative factor. Levels of phosphatidylglycerol (an indicator of lung maturity) were found to be negative in certain newborns

Mild surfactant deficiency has also been suggested as a causative factor.


Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a diagnosis of exclusion as it is a benign condition that can have symptoms and signs similar to more serious conditions, such as respiratory distress syndrome.[2] A chest X-ray may show a radiopaque line - fluid - in the horizontal fissure of the right lung, fluid infiltrate throughout alveoli or fluid in individual lung lobes.[2] The lungs may also appear hyperinflated.[4]


Supportive care is the treatment of choice for transient tachypnea of the newborn. This may include withholding oral feeding in periods of extreme tachypnea (over 60 breaths per minute) to prevent aspiration, supplemental oxygen, and CPAP.[5]


Transient tachypnea of the newborn occurs in approximately 1 in 100 preterm infants and 3.6-5.7 per 1000 term infants. It is most common in infants born by Cesarian section without a trial of labor after 35 weeks' gestation. Male infants and infants with an umbilical cord prolapse or perinatal asphyxia are at higher risk. Parental risk factors include use of pain control or anesthesia during labor, asthma, and diabetes.[5]


  1. Reuter S, Moser C, Baack M (October 2014). "Respiratory distress in the newborn". Pediatrics in Review. 35 (10): 417–28, quiz 429. doi:10.1542/pir.35-10-417. PMC 4533247. PMID 25274969.
  2. Lissauer T, Clayden (2007). Illustrated textbook of paediatrics (3rd ed.). Mosby/Elsevier. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7234-3397-2.
  3. Hermansen CL, Lorah KN (October 2007). "Respiratory distress in the newborn". American Family Physician. 76 (7): 987–94. PMID 17956068.
  4. Gomella TL, Cunningham MD, Eyal FG, Tuttle DJ (1999). Neonatology: Management, Procedures, On-Call Problems, Diseases, and Drugs (4th ed.). Stamford, Conn.: Appleton & Lange. ISBN 978-0-8385-6687-9.
  5. Wells, RG (2015). "Neonatal Lung Disease". Diagnostic Imaging of Infants and Children. McGraw Hill.
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