Children's Hospital Colorado

Children’s Interstitial and Diffuse Lung Disease

What is children’s interstitial and diffuse lung disease (chILD)?

Children's interstitial and diffuse lung disease (chILD) is a group of rare pediatric lung diseases. There are many different types, including problems in the airways, problems in the air sacs (alveoli) or problems in the interstitium (space between the air sacs).

There are many types of chILD. There are primary disorders, which are more common in infancy. There are also secondary disorders, which are caused by other medical conditions.

  • Primary:
    • Developmental disorders
    • Growth abnormality disorders
    • Conditions with unknown causes
    • Surfactant dysfunction mutations
  • Secondary:
    • Disorders related to system (body-wide) diseases, like sarcoidosis
    • Disorders caused by infections such as bronchiolitis obliterans or eosinophilic pneumonia
    • Disorders caused by a weakened immune system, which results from conditions such as transplantation and rejection
    • Disorders that resemble interstitial disease such as pulmonary hypertension
    • Unknown classification; lung biopsy tissue cannot be classified

ChILD overlaps with some adult forms of ILD, but many forms of chILD are unique to children, such as neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy or pulmonary interstitial glycogenosis.

What causes pediatric interstitial lung disease?

Every type of chILD has a unique cause or causes, all of which result in lung disease. Some types, such as surfactant dysfunction mutations, are inherited through genes from a child's parents. Environmental factors, such as chronic exposure to fungi found in humidifiers, swamp coolers or birds, may also play a role. Bronchiolitis obliterans can be caused by infections (like adenovirus) or happen after transplantation (lung or hematopoietic stem cell).