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What does “interstitial” mean?

It helps to learn about normal lungs to understand chILD. 

When a person breathes, air passes through the airways into tiny air sacs called alveoli. These alveoli are where the oxygen we breathe passes into the blood. This is also where carbon dioxide (a waste gas from our cells) leaves the blood so we can breathe it out. The area between the alveoli and the blood vessels is called the interstitium or interstitial space. Read more about normal lung development here. 

Any changes to the interstitial space can make it harder for oxygen to pass into the blood and be delivered to the body. These changes could include extra things in the interstitium such as: 

  • Inflammation (infection-fighting cells)  
  • Blood cells from lung bleeding 
  • Swelling (extra water or fluid on the lungs) 
  • Scar tissue 

Other parts of the lungs can also cause trouble in chILD. The air sacs and small airways can also be involved. As our doctors discovered more about chILD we changed our name from Children’s Interstitial Lung Disease to Children’s Interstitial and Diffuse Lung Disease to represent all of the chILD disorders.


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