Neonatal cardiorespiratory physiology

Understanding the hearts and lungs of premature babies

The immature hearts and lungs of premature babies sometimes struggle to meet the demands of gas exchange after birth. These problems may result in the development of disorders such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) which is a chronic lung disease in premature babies. BPD may result in lifelong difficulties with breathing. Understanding the factors contributing to poor lung and heart function in premature babies and finding better ways to prevent heart and lung disease is vital to improving the long-term outcomes of premature infants.

  • Approximately 40% of babies born more than 12 weeks early develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia. 1, 2
  • 15–25 % of babies with bronchopulmonary dysplasia also have pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lung circulation). 3
  • Recent evidence suggests children born premature and diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia have gradual decline of lung function during childhood. 4

Our collaborations

Our group collaborates with several local, interstate, and international clinicians and scientists to develop better methods of measuring and treating disorders of heart and lung function in premature babies.


Lung function follow-up (Telethon Kids Institute)

Telethon Kids Institute logoWe are collaborating with Professor Graham Hall and Dr Shannon Simpson at the Children’s Lung Health Group at the Telethon Kids Institute to look at the impact of premature birth on long-term lung health outcomes.



Chest wall mechanics (Politecnico di Milano)

Politecnio MilanoWe are working with biomedical engineers at the Politecnico di Milano, led by Professor Raffaele Dellacà, to understand the chest wall mechanics in premature babies.




Echocardiography in babies (Royal North Shore Hospital)

Royal North Shore HospitalAlong with Clinical Professor Martin Kluckow at the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, we are working to quality control the echocardiographies (heart sonograms) taken in Perth.


Cardiorespiratory resuscitation (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute With Clinical Associate Professor David Tingay at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, we are collaborating to study artificial ventilation equipment and protocols to reduce lung damage.

Preclinical cardiovascular function (Hudson Institute of Medical Research)

We are working with Associate Professor Graeme Polglase at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne to better understand the physiology of neonatal transition immediately after birth.

Contact Associate Professor Jane Pillow