A congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM) is when a baby is born with a piece of unusual lung tissue involving one of their lungs. This unusual piece of lung tissue, which contains a blood vessel, is made of small cysts (sacs of fluid or air). A baby can have one CPAM or multiple CPAMs, and they often change in size or shape throughout your pregnancy.

CPAMs are similar to bronchopulmonary sequestrations. CPAMs are different in that a blood vessel runs directly from the aorta (major artery that brings blood from the heart to the rest of the body) to the unusual piece of lung tissue. The heart will need to work harder than usual to pump blood to that unneeded, excess lung tissue. The extra piece of tissue is not needed for the lung to function properly and will need to be removed. If not removed, excess blood flow to the CPAM can lead to health problems, including difficulty breathing, infection or heart failure

Symptoms of Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation

A prenatal (pregnancy) ultrasound will reveal the CPAM in your baby’s lung. If the CPAM is large, it may press on the heart and move it out of its usual location. This unusual positioning can also be seen on a prenatal ultrasound.

Babies with CPAM may also experience a buildup of extra fluid during development in their mother’s womb. This excess fluid buildup, called fetal hydrops, can occur in the baby’s abdomen (belly), lung, scalp or skin. If your baby has fetal hydrops, you may need to visit your obstetrician (pregnancy doctor) more often for frequent prenatal (pregnancy) ultrasounds.

When to see a doctor

If your OB/GYN notices anything out of the ordinary, such as unusual tissue involving your baby’s lung during your prenatal ultrasound, they will refer you to a high-risk pregnancy doctor. This doctor will give you more information about your baby’s health and provide additional testing.

Causes of Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation

This condition occurs during a baby’s development in their mother’s womb, and experts don’t know what causes CPAMs. This condition does not appear to run in families.

Who’s at risk

For unknown reasons, male babies are at a slightly higher risk of being born with CPAM than female babies.

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Contact an Orlando Health doctor

If your developing baby is diagnosed with a congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM), make an appointment with an Orlando Health high-risk pregnancy doctor today, so your child can start on the road to improved health.