A persistent ductus arteriosus is a common event in preterm infants. The systemic-to-pulmonary shunting that occurs as the pulmonary vascular resistance decreases after birth can have significant cardiovascular and respiratory consequences. Acute pulmonary effects include pulmonary edema and hemorrhage, worsened lung mechanics and deterioration in gas exchange with hypoxemia and hypercapnia. The increased pulmonary blood flow can also produce damage to the capillary endothelium and trigger an inflammatory cascade. This, plus the need for longer and more aggressive mechanical ventilation, can explain the association between patent ductus arteriosus and an increased risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants.
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