Infant Chronic Lung Disease Program

Our Infant Chronic Lung Disease Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides the multidisciplinary care and support necessary for your child’s lungs to thrive. CHLA’s Neonatal and Pulmonary services are ranked among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We follow your child every step of the way, whether your journey starts in our level IV Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU) or our outpatient chronic lung disease clinic.

Infant chronic lung disease, also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), affects a baby’s breathing system and lung development. “Bronchopulmonary” means the disease impacts your child’s airways (bronchi) and lungs (pulmonary). “Dysplasia” refers to the abnormal development of your child’s lungs and lung tissue. BPD typically affects low-weight infants (less than 2 pounds) or premature infants born more than 10 weeks early.

These babies often require breathing support with a ventilator and oxygen because of their underdeveloped lungs. While less common, other forms of chronic lung disease may be seen in full term neonates and these babies may also benefit from the program. Our specialists treat all causes of infant BPD and provide seamless, coordinated care from birth through childhood.

Infant Chronic Lung Disease Program: Why Choose Us

Our goal is to improve lifelong outcomes for infants and children with BPD by consistently providing high-quality, comprehensive care throughout childhood. Our specialized team offers:

  • A multidisciplinary approach: We take a coordinated approach to diagnosing and treating BPD. Your family has access to the expertise of neonatologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists and nurses — all in one place. The comprehensive care team also includes dietitians, occupational and physical therapists, feeding specialists and Child Life specialists.
  • Personalized treatment: Through in-depth, specialized evaluations, we determine a personalized care plan for your child. During treatment, we use various ventilator (breathing machine) strategies and medications to support your child’s lungs, growth and development. We customize our approach based on what works best for your child.
  • Seamless, long-term care: Your child has a team of experts providing continuous care. Support starts in the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU), recognized for excellent, lifesaving and family-centered care. We work with families to ensure a smooth transition from the NICCU to the medical floors, outpatient care and long-term follow-up. Our team helps your family navigate BPD and focuses on optimizing your child’s growth and development.
  • Research and innovation: We participate in the BPD Collaborative, a multi-institutional research coalition with the goal of improving outcomes for children with BPD. Our team leads this effort to standardize and advance medical care for infant BPD through research and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our ongoing involvement in research and international connections ensure your child continues to receive state-of-the-art care.

Infant Chronic Lung Disease Programs and Services

Our multidisciplinary team of experts provides comprehensive, coordinated care and a range of services, including:

Thorough Diagnostic Evaluations

Our specialists review your child’s medical history, perform a thorough physical examination and complete diagnostic tests. These tests help pinpoint the severity of lung disease and determine the best treatment approach for your child.

We also assess for other conditions that may affect your infant’s lungs, such as pulmonary hypertension, reflux and aspiration. By determining your child’s exact diagnosis, we can offer the most effective treatment.

Personalized Treatment Plans

Our specialists create treatment plans designed specifically for your child. Registered dietitians provide personalized nutritional support. Physical and occupational therapists develop individualized treatment plans to provide ongoing neurodevelopmental support.

Multidisciplinary Care Team

Our Infant Chronic Lung Disease Program includes highly skilled providers who prioritize your child’s health. Meet our team.

Our dedicated specialists caring for inpatient and outpatient infants and children include:

Your child and family also receive individualized care and support from:

  • Child Life specialists
  • Clinical care coordinators
  • Dietitians
  • Nurse care managers
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social workers

Inpatient Pediatric Care

We help your family navigate chronic lung disease diagnosis and treatment. Our experts follow infants with BPD starting from admission to our Level IV NICCU. This designation ensures the highest quality and most experienced care for critically ill infants.

When your child is ready to leave the NICCU, we work with your family to ensure a seamless transition to the next phase of care. We may continue treating your child in the hospital on a medical floor. Our medical floor teams work closely with our infant chronic lung disease team to provide continued care after the NICCU.

For infants who require ventilation at home, we determine the right time to transition into our Home Mechanical Ventilation (HMV) program. CHLA has one of the largest HMV programs in the world.

Home Mechanical Ventilation

For infants with severe BPD, our Home Mechanical Ventilation program provides continued breathing support from the comfort of your own home. Our team works closely with your family for safe discharge. We empower you with the medical tools and expertise you need, including an in-depth training program before your child leaves the hospital. And we give you the necessary supplies such as oxygen, other equipment and medications.

Once home, you have a virtual visit with your child’s doctor and access to a health care provider 24/7. The program’s designated pulmonologist and nurse offer guidance throughout the process. They coordinate closely with home nurses, medical equipment providers, payers and your child’s primary care doctor.

Outpatient Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Clinic

As part of our Infant Chronic Lung Disease Program, we meet with you and your family for long-term follow-up care. As your infant continues to heal and recover from BPD, we offer ongoing treatment at the Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Clinic.

The BPD clinic is a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic within the Division of Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine. The clinic provides continuity of care for babies with BPD after discharge from CHLA or other hospitals in the community. A variety of specialists participate in clinic appointments to help determine the next steps for your child.

What to expect during your first outpatient clinic visit

We typically see infants and children in our BPD clinic 1-2 months after discharge from the hospital. The BPD team receives a referral from your doctor and reviews the information. A BPD nurse care manager may contact you before your clinic visit to learn more.

We suggest bringing your child’s hospital discharge summary and a CD of any prior radiology (imaging) tests to your appointment. Though written radiology reports are helpful, seeing the original images helps our BPD team develop a plan of care.

Your first appointment at the BPD Clinic lasts approximately 2 hours, depending on how many specialists see your child. You meet with a pulmonologist, nurse care manager, registered dietitian and social worker. If needed, you may also see an occupational therapist for a swallowing assessment and a pediatric gastroenterologist for any digestive concerns.

Depending on your child’s needs, outpatient diagnostic tests may include:

  • Airway evaluation
  • Blood test
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Sleep study
  • Swallow evaluation

Our Role in Research and Innovation

We ensure continued excellence and quality of care for your child through active research and innovation. Our team paves the way for BPD research as a member of the BPD Collaborative.

An international coalition of medical and research centers, the BPD Collaborative strives to:

  • Standardize chronic lung disease care
  • Improve diagnostic strategies and disease management
  • Optimize infant outcomes
  • Promote interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Share important discoveries and care practices

Active membership allows us to engage in BPD research on an international level. We collaborate with more than 30 children’s hospitals and research institutions to ultimately improve long-term outcomes for these vulnerable infants.