Pulmonary medicine is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. Our nationally recognized Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine program cares for babies, children and teens with conditions that affect their breathing. Our team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, respiratory therapists and a dietitian committed to providing complete and compassionate care for your child. We work closely with experts in many of Seattle Children's clinics, including Otolaryngology, Rehabilitation MedicineRadiology and Sleep Disorders.

Our clinic has special clinics dedicated to treating children with cystic fibrosis, sleep disorders and asthma. We also provide general evaluations for children who have symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, recurrent pneumonia, wheezing, chest pain and problems with doing exercise. In all of our work, we focus on education so that you and your child can learn how to best manage your child's condition today while planning for the future.

US News 2014 Pulmonology

Awards and Recognition  

In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Children's Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine program as one of the best in the country.

Conditions we treat

We treat many conditions that affect your child's breathing, including:

  • Asthma is a long-term lung disease. It causes the tubes that carry air to the lungs (airways) to swell and produce thick mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and causes coughing and wheezing. People of all ages can develop asthma, including babies and teens. Read more. (PDF)

  • Cystic fibrosis is a condition that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and other parts of the body. The mucus can clog the tubes that carry air to your child's lungs (airways), making it difficult to breathe. CF contributes to other health problems, including increasing your child's risk of infections. CF is passed from parent to child in genes (inherited).  Learn more about cystic fibrosis research.

  • Babies who are born early (premature) are at greater risk than full-term babies for developing some types of long-lasting lung diseases. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a common lung problem for premature babies. With BPD, lung tissues develop abnormally, which causes stiffness and scarring in the lungs.

  • Respiratory failure occurs when the lungs do not properly exchange gases, leading to too much carbon dioxide and too little oxygen in the blood. To keep the gases in balance, some children need help from machines, such as mechanical ventilators or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines.

  • Problems with eating, swallowing, and processing food and drink (digestion) can affect the lungs and respiratory system. Having a hard time swallowing (dysphagia), inhaling bits of food or other matter into the airways (aspiration) and having stomach contents move backward into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux) all can cause coughing, trigger asthma and make other lung conditions worse.

  • Neuromuscular disorders, which affect how your child's nerves and muscles work, can cause breathing problems. Conditions such as hypotonia, which causes floppy muscles; spinal muscular atrophy, which affects the nerves that control some muscles; and muscular dystrophy, which causes the muscles to break down over time, can all affect muscles used in breathing. Another neuromuscular disorder, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS), interferes with automatic control of breathing, especially during sleep.

  • Breathing problems during sleep can cause a number of problems for children, including hyperactivity and daytime drowsiness. Sleep apnea, for example, refers to a group of sleep disorders during which breathing stops for brief periods while your child sleeps. Sleep disorders can make it hard for your child to get the sleep needed for good health. Children's Sleep Disorders Program operates under our Pulmonary Medicine division.

  • Scoliosis is a sideways curve in the spine. The way a child's chest wall or spine is formed can affect breathing and sleep. In these cases, doctors can help decide if medical care or surgery may be helpful.

  • When children have infections such as bronchitis, bronchiolitis or pneumonia over and over again or for long periods of time, there may be other medical reasons that make them more likely to get sick. Pulmonary doctors evaluate children with infections of the respiratory tract to stop problems from continuing.

Services we offer

  • Flexible bronchoscopy lets doctors look inside the tubes that carry air from your child's windpipe to the lungs (the bronchi and bronchioles). The test is usually done to find the cause of a lung problem. During the test, doctors may take a small sample of mucus or tissue from the lungs to examine later under a microscope.

  • Our team has extensive experience caring for the youngest patients. We provide pulmonary function tests for infants to help identify and evaluate lung conditions and measure how well your baby breathes. Read more. (PDF)

  • If your child has a neuromuscular disease, they may see a rehabilitation doctor, neurologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, nurse, occupational or physical therapist, dietitian and social worker. This is based on your child’s needs. The team recommends ways to improve your child’s overall medical status and function. Treatments may include therapy, special equipment, orthotics, surgery and medications. The Neuromuscular Clinic is supported in part by the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

  • Doctors use polysomnography (PSG or sleep study) to identify sleep problems. During sleep, the body acts differently than while awake. A sleep study monitors your child's body functions during sleep, including sleep stages, eye movements, brain waves, muscle activity, breathing, body positions and heartbeat.

  • Pulmonary function tests measure how well your child breathes. Doctors use them to help diagnose asthma and other lung diseases, and to evaluate lung diseases that have already been diagnosed. There are many kinds of PFTs. Spirometry measures how much and how quickly your child can breathe out following a deep inhalation. Lung plethysmography measures how much air your child can hold in the lungs. Diffusion capacity testing measures how well oxygen passes from your child's lungs to the blood.

  • We provide long-term follow-up care for children who have had major chest surgery that might affect their lungs, including children with congenital lung malformations or congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Along with giving each child care that’s tailored to them, our goal is to establish standards and guidelines to improve care for all children who need surgery pulmonary follow-up.

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