Laryngomalacia is a congenital condition where the tissues of the larynx (voice box) are soft. This is the most common cause of noisy breathing in infants, because the floppy tissues partially block the airway. The softer tissues can also lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease. In 90 percent of cases, laryngomalacia is not serious and the condition resolves without treatment by 18 to 20 months old. In severe cases, treatment may include medication for GERD or surgery to strengthen or repair the larynx.

Other pediatric airway conditions include:

  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux is when stomach contents travel to the aero-digestive tract, causing cough, hoarseness and wheezing. Medicines and surgery are the treatment options.
  • Subglottic stenosis is a narrowing of the windpipe below the vocal folds. Treatments include surgery to widen or reshape the windpipe.
  • Vocal fold paralysis happens when the nerve signals to the laryngeal muscles are abnormal. Treatments include voice therapy and phonosurgery, a procedure to reshape or reposition the vocal cords.