Rapid Breathing in 3 Week Old

Updated on July 22, 2010
A.D. asks from Indianapolis, IN
5 answers

I'm curious if anyone else has run into a similar situation...

Our 3 week old boy has been breathing pretty rapidly (60 times per minute). His doctor recommended he go to the hospital, which we did. They monitored him for 24 hours and also did a chest xray and an echocardiogram. There was some disagreement among the ER and staff doctor as to whether there was any fluid/infection showing up in his lungs. Given that there was no fever or cold-type symptoms, the staff doctor ruled out infection. His oxygen levels were good the entire time and the echo cardiogram was fine. We've been released from the hospital as everything looks ok/healthy other than the elevated breathing. They have recommended that we see a pulmonologist as a next step (which we are), but also said that this could just be caused by a slight delay in his transition from early life breathing to now (after all, he's only 3 weeks old). He's gaining weight, is never blue-ish, and is seemingly very healthy. He was a vaginally delivered baby with no apparent complications with the delivery. Also, just to clarify for other people that have already responded...he is not showing any symptoms of problems breathing (like asthma, congestion, etc.). He's simply breathing rapidly.

Anyone else have experience with rapid breathing in their newborn? I've seen where some people have commented on similar situations but would like to get a broader perspective.

Any information is most appreciated!

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So What Happened?

We saw a pulmonologist this week who said that she didn't see any apparent major issues. He might have some upper respiratory congestion caused by breastmilk and may also have a bit of a "floppy wind pipe", but that these issues typically go away as the child grows. We will revisit again in 3 months if necessary (or sooner is something changes).

More Answers



answers from Augusta on

When my baby was breathing like that it was pneumonia. This was my c section baby.
Did they say anything about taking him into a bathroom full of steam?
My kids have asthma and when they have trouble breathing one thing that helps them is putting vicks on their chest and a really warm ( as warm as they can stand it) wash clothe on top of it.
hope that helps

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Did you have a C-section? I did and they said my son's rapid breathing was because he did not have the amniotic fluid squeezed out and his lung muscles invigorated/massaged during birth which would have happened if he had been born vaginally. My son's breathing was caught at birth so they kept him in the NICU for 5 days. He has no problems now except that cold and allergy symptoms go straight to a phlegmy cough. He does not have astma.

If your baby was born naturally, I don't have any other suggestions. Hope he feels better soon!

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answers from Cincinnati on

If this is an occasional thing-sometimes he breathes slower-no worry. Any pediatric training I have ever been involved in teaches respiratory rates of up to 60 are normal on occasion. (I am an RN of 34 yrs and EMS provider/educator for 25 yrs.) If he is calm, color is good, eats and drinks well, is alert when awake, is aware of his surroundings-I wouldn't worry. Any wheezing, pale or bluish color of skin, cough or vomiting-get medical advice right away.



answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter had rapid breathing when she was only a few weeks old. My older daughter never did that so it was very scary. I called my doctor and he said that it was called "periodic breathing" and was totally normal for newborns. She was healthy and had no infections and the doctor said that as long as she was not turning blue then there was no reason to worry. My daughter stopped doing it after a few weeks and she was fine.



answers from Columbus on

I don't have any medical advice, though it sounds like you're doing all the right things (with the follow-up, etc). One suggestion I have regarding the medical care/diagnosis is to take him to your closest Children's Hospital, even if its far away, because the will have tons of expertise on babies/children. And ask if your pediatrician can get you into see a pediatric pulmonologist, not just a regular pulmonologist.... If your ped. can't, have him/her contact the Children's Hospital to see if s/he can get your a referral to one there....

My only other thought is for you to hold your baby as much as possible in an upright position between your breasts, with the head turned toward your heart. This is used with premies a lot (it's called "Kangaroo Care") and has a significant positive impact on their health, including heart and respiration. Get a baby carrier and strap the baby on, something like a Wrapsody wrap, or a mai tei carrier etc. (you can see various carriers at www.attachedtobaby.com, or tons of other websites; just google "baby carrier"). My thought is that it sure can't hurt to use the carrier and keep your baby close, and I noticed with my (full term, normal, healthy) baby that he loved, loved, loved being carried (what baby doesn't? :), and I was able to carry him "hands-free". :)

I'll be keeping you & your little on in my thoughts...

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