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Prematurity Problems: Patent Ductus Arteriosus


The ductus arteriosus is the blood vessel, which connects the pulmonary artery (main vessel leading to the lungs) to the aorta (main vessel of the body). In the uterus foetal blood does not need to go to the lungs as oxygen is provided by the mother, through the placenta . However, following birth it is the infants' lungs which must now provide oxygen. Normally in the hours following birth, the ductus arteriosus seals as it is no longer needed.
However in premature infants , especially those who have had respiratory distress syndrome , this blood vessel may stay open ( patent ). Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) results in a build-up of blood and fluid in the lungs which may cause difficulties in breathing for the infant, an increase in heart-rate and may produce heart failure.
Treatment, if deemed necessary, usually involves certain drugs, which help close the PDA.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):

1. University of Wisconsin and The Center For Perinatal Care at Meriter Hospital Madison, Wisconsin:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 21 2004