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Neuroendocrine cell Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI)

What is Neuroendocrine cell Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI)? 

NEHI causes trouble with breathing in babies. The exact cause of NEHI is not fully understood. Neuroendocrine cells are normal in the body, but in NEHI there are extra neuroendocrine cells in the lungs. Researchers believe it might be due to both genetics and the environment. We are working to learn more about NEHI and what causes it. 

Babies with NEHI usually have fast and heavy breathing. They may have low oxygen levels and “crackles” on lung exam. Babies usually have trouble gaining weight and growing. This is because they have to use a lot of energy to breathe. They may need the hospital for respiratory illness.  



What does NEHI mean for my child?

Most babies and children with NEHI do well with oxygen and nutrition support. As the child grows, their lungs get stronger. Children are usually able to come off of oxygen as they grow. Older children and teenagers with NEHI may only need oxygen when sleeping or during illness.

It is important to protect your child’s lungs from infection by making sure they get the recommended ​​vaccines. We are still learning about how NEHI impacts young adults. 

What to watch out for:

  • If your child is working hard to breathe, talk to a health care provider. If possible. ask to see a lung specialist who is experienced with these conditions.
  • Try to prevent infections from common childhood illnesses. Wash your hands often and ask your friends and family to let you know if they are sick before they are around your child.
  • Get your child’s vaccines and yearly flu shot.

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Author(s): Aneela Bidwala  Reviewer(s): Katelyn Krivchenia  Version: