Congenital pulmonary lymphangiectasia
is a rare developmental disorder present from birth that affects the lungs. Infants with this condition have abnormally widened lymphatic vessels within the lungs. The lymphatic system, which helps the immune system protect the body against infection and disease, consists of a network of tubular channels that drain a thin watery fluid known as lymph from different areas of the body into the bloodstream. Lymph, which is made up of proteins, fats and certain white blood cells called lymphocytes, accumulates in the tiny spaces between tissue cells. Infants with congenital pulmonary lymphangiectasia often develop severe, potentially life-threatening, respiratory distress shortly after birth. They may also develop cyanosis, a condition caused by low levels of circulating oxygen in the blood which causes the skin to have a bluish tint. The exact cause of the condition is unknown.
Congenital pulmonary lymphangiectasia can occur as a primary or secondary disorder. Primary congenital pulmonary lymphangiectasia can occur as an isolated defect within the lungs or as part of a a generalized form of lymphatic vessel malformation that affects the entire body. Secondary congenital pulmonary lymphangiectasia occurs secondary to another condition, often involving the heart. Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.