The Diagnosis of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in Very Preterm Infants. An Evidence-based Approach

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2019 Sep 15;200(6):751-759. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201812-2348OC.


Rationale: Current diagnostic criteria for bronchopulmonary dysplasia rely heavily on the level and duration of oxygen therapy, do not reflect contemporary neonatal care, and do not adequately predict childhood morbidity.Objectives: To determine which of 18 prespecified, revised definitions of bronchopulmonary dysplasia that variably define disease severity according to the level of respiratory support and supplemental oxygen administered at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age best predicts death or serious respiratory morbidity through 18-26 months' corrected age.Methods: We assessed infants born at less than 32 weeks of gestation between 2011 and 2015 at 18 centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network.Measurements and Main Results: Of 2,677 infants, 683 (26%) died or developed serious respiratory morbidity. The diagnostic criteria that best predicted this outcome defined bronchopulmonary dysplasia according to treatment with the following support at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age, regardless of prior or current oxygen therapy: no bronchopulmonary dysplasia, no support (n = 773); grade 1, nasal cannula ≤2 L/min (n = 1,038); grade 2, nasal cannula >2 L/min or noninvasive positive airway pressure (n = 617); and grade 3, invasive mechanical ventilation (n = 249). These criteria correctly predicted death or serious respiratory morbidity in 81% of study infants. Rates of this outcome increased stepwise from 10% among infants without bronchopulmonary dysplasia to 77% among those with grade 3 disease. A similar gradient (33-79%) was observed for death or neurodevelopmental impairment.Conclusions: The definition of bronchopulmonary dysplasia that best predicted early childhood morbidity categorized disease severity according to the mode of respiratory support administered at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age, regardless of supplemental oxygen use.

Keywords: infant chronic lung disease; mechanical ventilation; supplemental oxygen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / diagnosis*
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / physiopathology*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • United States