Objectives. The aim of this study was to determine whether plasma levels of amino-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (N-BNP) could differentiate between heart failure and lung disease among infants with acute respiratory distress. In addition, our aim was to determine whether plasma levels of N-BNP could be used to monitor the effects of treatment among infants with heart failure.

Methods. Infants (age range: 1–36 months; median age: 10 months) who presented with respiratory distress underwent physical examination, plasma N-BNP measurement, and echocardiography within 24 hours after admission. Seventeen infants were finally diagnosed with acute heart failure and 18 with acute lung disease. Thirteen healthy infants served as a control group.

Results. Plasma N-BNP levels were significantly higher for the infants with heart failure (median: 18452 pg/mL; range: 5375–99700 pg/mL) than for the infants with lung disease (median: 311 pg/mL; range: 76–1341 pg/mL). Among the infants with heart failure, there was a significant difference in plasma N-BNP levels before and after congestive heart failure treatment.

Conclusion. Among infants with respiratory distress, plasma N-BNP measurements can differentiate between acute heart failure and lung disease and can be used to monitor the effects of treatment for infants with heart failure.

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