Treatment for children’s interstitial lung disease (chILD) depends on the type of chILD condition your child has. On this page we explain the different types of treatment available, things you can do to help, and living with chILD.

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How are chILD conditions treated?

The best treatment for your child depends on the chILD condition they have. They will be cared for by a range of different health care professionals. This may include respiratory consultants, radiologists, physiotherapists, dieticians, and nurse specialists. You should discuss the care your child needs with their medical team.

The chILD Lung Foundation website has more info on treatment for specific conditions of chILD. More research is needed to find treatments for different chILD conditions.

Some treatments may include:

Oxygen therapy

Your child will be given oxygen therapy if their blood oxygen levels are too low. Depending on your child’s age and size, oxygen therapy is delivered in different ways - through an incubator (for babies), a face mask, or a tube in your child’s nose (called a nasal cannula). If your child needs oxygen regularly, you will be offered oxygen at home.


Your child may be given medication to help reduce inflammation in their lungs. This may be an anti-inflammatory medicines such as steroids, an antimalarial which has anti-inflammatory effects (hydroxychloroquine) or an antibiotic, such as azithromycin.

These are treatments are not for any specific type of chILD. There may be very specific treatments for rare genetic conditions.

Your child may be given medication all the time, or in short bursts to try to avoid side effects.

Treatment for reflux

If your child experiences reflux (where the contents of the stomach are brought up into the mouth and may be breathed in), this should be treated as part of the management of chILD.

Aspiration (where something is swallowed into the airways or lungs, or goes back into the throat from the stomach) may also happen if your child is breathing so fast it makes swallowing difficult. If this happens, they may be assessed by a speech and language therapist.

Reflux can be treated by adjusting their feeding schedule (smaller amounts more frequently), changes to their feeding position (sitting more upright), or in some cases medication.

In some cases of chILD, especially with newborns or infants struggling to feed, enteral feeding may be recommended. This means being fed through a tube directly into the stomach. If this is recommended as part of your child’s treatment, you’ll be fully supported with training and equipment by the dietetic team.

Lung transplant

In rare, extreme cases where other forms of treatment haven’t worked, your child may be offered a lung transplant. Although a high number of children who have lung transplants develop serious complications, lung transplants have been shown to be an option for some children.

What else can I do to help?

  • Do not smoke or vape, or let others smoke or vape, around your child and try to avoid exposing your child to a lot of air pollution. Have a look at our pages on risks to children’s lung health for more information.
  • Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date and ask your doctor about the flu, pneumonia, and coronavirus vaccine.
  • Encourage your child to stay active and get regular exercise. This can help keep their lungs working well.
  • Make sure they have a healthy diet and drink enough water. Fighting infection and coughing can use up your child’s energy so they may need more food than usual. Their immune system will need plenty of protein and vitamins to fight infection. The NHS website has useful info about feeding your child.
  • Avoid infection where possible. Teach your children to use a disposable tissue and wash their hands after coughing and sneezing and make sure that you do too. We’ve got more information about what you can do to avoid infection.

Living with chILD

Adapting to life with a long-term lung condition like chILD can be challenging for you, your child, and the rest of your family. When your child’s condition is diagnosed, they’ll be given treatment depending on the type of chILD they have. As your child gets older, encourage them to take control of their care and treatment. We have more information about when your child is diagnosed with a lung condition, including advice on supporting your child as they grow up.

Ask your child’s doctors who you can contact if you have any questions, or if you’re unsure about something. It’s important to be able to recognise if your child’s condition is getting worse, or if they’re becoming ill, and when you should seek emergency care. Agree a plan with the doctor or nurse about what you should do.

Further information and support

Caring for a child with a long-term condition like chILD can be difficult. It’s important you take time to take care of yourself, as well as your child. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel like you’re struggling to cope. You can always call our helpline – our team of friendly nurses are there to answer your questions, or just for a chat. Call 0300 222 5800, Monday to Friday between 9am – 5pm (excluding bank holidays).

You may also want to join our Parent and Carer Support Network which provides support and a space for parents and carers of children with lung conditions to come together.

chILD UK – the Childhood Interstitial Lung Disease charity, there to support anyone affected by chILD.

Did you find this information useful?

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

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