Infant Breathlessness, Rapid Breathing, or Grunting

Breathlessness and shortness of breath are both casual terms for dysphenea. It’s something that can be experienced in all age groups, but it is often indicative of another kind of problem. Adults with breathlessness can communicate the kind of fear that comes with breathlessness, sometimes the feeling of suffocation or the tightening of the chest. With infants, however, parents and pediatricians must be proactive as there could be an underlying medical issue that requires immediate medical assistance.

 Cystic Fibrosis

Breathlessness is a symptom of something relating to the lungs, and cystic fibrosis is one of those birth injuries that relates to the lungs. Cystic fibrosis is an abnormal thickening of the gland that produces thick mucus and sweat.

Often, cystic fibrosis clogs the lungs, glands, and digestive tract of the child, causing breathlessness from mucus residing in the lungs. Other symptoms of the injury could include foul-smelling or greasy stool, intestinal blockage, inflamed nasal passages, persistent mucus-producing cough, poor weight gain, severe constipation, and wheezing. Cystic fibrosis is usually found in children and can be diagnosed from a blood test, a chest x-ray, and/or a sputum culture.

 Folic Acid Anemia

Because folic acid anemia is a disorder related to the folic acid in the blood, it doesn’t seem that breathlessness would be a symptom indicative of the problem. However, all symptoms of folic acid anemia should be heeded as it may communicate that the child has been deficient in folic acid for quite some time. Breathlessness is one of the symptoms, but the other symptoms of folic acid anemia include lethargy, paleness, palpitations, and fatigue.

 Folic acid anemia is generally simple to diagnose. There are several blood tests used to confirm it and a physician will usually check the vitamin b-12 levels as well.

 Group B Strep Infection

Sometimes mothers carry a group B strep infection without even knowing it and they pass it off to their baby during childbirth. Doctors are supposed to check the mothers for this during the end of their pregnancy, but when doctors don’t, this birth injury ends up creating undue harm on the child.

Breathing problems or breathlessness is one of the many symptoms associated with group B strep infection. Other symptoms include fever, grunting sounds, bluish skin, seizures, limpness, stiffness, heart rate and blood pressure abnormalities, poor feeding, and fussiness.

Group B strep infection can be diagnosed by testing the blood or the spinal fluid.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), Hypoxia, or Anoxia

One of the most difficult, common, and tragic birth injuries is HIE, or when the baby has been hypoxic or anoxic. If the baby is breathless immediately after delivery, this may be an indication of hypoxia, a medical condition marked by lack of oxygen.

The doctor should work immediately to assist in the child’s breathing to prevent brain damage or cerebral palsy. A CT scan or an MRI is generally administered after the baby breathes normally again to determine if brain damage, if any, has occurred.


 Meningitis occurs when a maternal infection or group B strep infection expose the newborn’s symptom to too much bacteria, thus causing extreme health problems. Breathlessness is one of the symptoms of meningitis, along with fever, trouble eating, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, irritability, lethargy, or even seizures.