Pulmonary medicine is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. Our nationally recognized Pulmonary program cares for babies, children and teens with conditions that affect their breathing and sleep.
We offer specialty clinics dedicated to treating children who have cystic fibrosis and asthma. We 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.
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, General Surgery, Rehabilitation Medicine, Sleep Medicine and Radiology.
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)
Bronchiectasis (bron-kee-eck-tuh-sis) is abnormal widening of the airways of the lung (bronchi) that can be seen on chest CT (computed tomography). It causes chronic cough, mucus production and frequent respiratory infections. Learn more about our Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and Bronchiectasis Clinic.
Chest wall and spine disorders (scoliosis)
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.
Chronic lung disease due to premature birth
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. Our Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Program is a multidisciplinary team of experts experienced in caring for babies with BPD.
Chronic and recurrent respiratory infections
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.
Cystic fibrosis (CF)
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 our Cystic Fibrosis Program and cystic fibrosis research.
Dysphagia, aspiration and gastroesophageal reflux
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.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD)
Primary ciliary dyskinesia, or PCD is a condition that causes chronic cough, nasal congestion, recurrent ear infections, sinus infections and lung infections. It is a rare disease that affects tiny, hair-like structures that line the airways called cilia (SIL-e-ah). Some (about half) of people with PCD have condition in which the internal organs (for example, the heart, stomach, spleen, liver, and gallbladder) are in opposite positions from where they normally are. PCD is passed from parent to child in genes (inherited). Learn more about our Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and Bronchiectasis Clinic.
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. Learn more about Seattle Children’s Sleep Medicine program.
Swallowing and breathing disorders
Children who tend to breathe in saliva and liquids they drink are prone to persistent or recurrent breathing problems, recurrent lung infections and wheezing. Pulmonary doctors work with otolaryngologists, gastroenterologists and occupational therapists to address anatomic and functional disorders of swallowing that lead to respiratory disease.
Use of ventilators or tracheostomies to breathe safely at home
Children who depend on complex respiratory support at home, including tracheostomies and ventilators, receive comprehensive care by pulmonary doctors, otolaryngologists and respiratory therapists to assure safe long-term care outside the hospital.
Services We Offer
The Aerodigestive Program cares for babies, children and teens with complex problems that affect breathing and swallowing. Our team includes doctors from Otolaryngology, Pulmonary Medicine, Speech Pathology, Nutrition, Pediatric Surgery, Gastroenterology and others to give your child complete care. Learn more.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Program
Our Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) Program is a multidisciplinary team of experts experienced in caring for babies with a long-lasting lung disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia. We partner with your family to provide the care your baby needs, both in the hospital and at home. Our follow-up care aims to improve your child’s lung health and avoid hospital stays and emergency room visits.
Cystic Fibrosis Program
Seattle Children’s offers a comprehensive program for children with cystic fibrosis (CF). We use the latest therapies and medicines to help your child stay well and slow the progression of the disease. Learn more.
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.
Home Ventilation Program
The home ventilation program provides comprehensive care to infants and children of all ages who require mechanical ventilation through a tracheostomy. Our goal is to give your child the best opportunity to grow, develop and participate in life while receiving optimal breathing support. Learn more.
Infant pulmonary function tests
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.
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.
Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and Bronchiectasis Clinic
Seattle Children’s Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and Bronchiectasis Clinic offers complete services for diagnosing and managing primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) and other types of bronchiectasis in children and young adults. Learn more.
Pulmonary function tests (PFTs)
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. Our Pulmonary Diagnostics Lab conducts 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.
Paying for Care
Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.