Babies tend to have trouble breathing when they do not get sufficient oxygen from normal breathing. This is referred to as respiratory distress especially among the newborns. It is imperative for a parent to know as to how to tell whether their child is having difficulty breathing.

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How Can You Tell if Your Baby is Having Trouble Breathing?

Having knowledge is extremely useful in timely intervention and treatment of the baby. Some of the signs that a baby will show when having trouble breathing include:

Rapid Breathing: A baby having difficulty breathing will find it harder to take in oxygen. This will cause them to breathe harder thus increasing their respiratory rate. The respiratory rate is the number of breaths taken in a minute. The normal range is between 12-20 breaths per minute. If a baby is having trouble breathing then this rate will be significantly higher.

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Tachycardia: Deprivation of oxygen levels in the body will cause the heart to pump harder. This in turn increases the heart rate of the baby.

Bluish Discoloration: A baby having trouble breathing will have bluish discoloration around the mouth and lips. The skin also appears to be pale and with a grayish tinge to it.

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Audible Grunting: An audible grunting sound is heard during breathing when a baby is in respiratory distress. The grunting sound is the body method of keeping the lungs expanded to fill in more oxygen.

Flaring of Nostrils: A baby with difficulty breathing will have flaring of the nostrils with each breath. This is a classic sign that the baby is in respiratory distress.

Chest Retractions: When a baby has difficulty breathing, with each breath the chest and the rib areas tend to move inwards under the breastbone to try to get in more oxygen and regulate the breathing.

Sweating: A baby with difficulty breathing will exhibit increased sweat even though the skin temperature remains normal. This usually occurs when the body is trying harder to fill in air in the lungs and the respiratory rate increases.

Audible Wheezing: There will also be audible wheezing in a baby with difficulty breathing with each breath. This indicates that the air passages are small which is why the baby is finding it hard to breathe.

Accessory Muscle Use: A baby with difficulty breathing will make use of accessory muscles like the muscles of the neck for breathing. Thus the parent will be able to see the neck muscles moving with each breath that the child takes.

Difficulty Staying Alert: As a result of depleted oxygen levels in the body, the baby will appear fatigued and will not appear to play or be active, which is also a classic sign of respiratory distress or difficulty breathing in a baby.

What To Do If Your Baby is Having Trouble Breathing?

If your baby shows any of the signs mentioned above then it is vital that you take the baby to the nearest emergency room for identifying the cause of difficulty breathing and adequate treatment. Prompt treatment for difficulty breathing in babies is a must as a delay may cause unwanted complications and may make the case worse for the child both in terms of illness and quality of life.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 5, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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