In utero, pulmonary blood flow is closely circumscribed and oxygenation and ventilation occur via the placental circulation. Within the first few breaths of air-breathing life, the perinatal pulmonary circulation undergoes a dramatic transition as pulmonary blood flow increases 10-fold and the pulmonary arterial blood pressure decreases by 50% within 24 hours of birth. With the loss of the placental circulation, the increase in pulmonary flow enables oxygen to enter the bloodstream. The physiologic mechanisms that account for the remarkable transition of the pulmonary circulation include establishment of an air-liquid interface, rhythmic distention of the lung, an increase in shear stress and elaboration of nitric oxide from the pulmonary endothelium. If the perinatal pulmonary circulation does not dilate, blood is shunted away from the lungs at the level of the patent foramen ovale and the ductus arteriosus leading to the profound and unremitting hypoxemia that characterizes persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a syndrome without either optimally effective preventative or treatment strategies. Despite significant advances in treatment, PPHN remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in neonatal centers across the globe. While there is information surrounding factors that might increase the risk of PPHN, knowledge remains incomplete. Cesarean section delivery, high maternal body mass index, maternal use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents and maternal diabetes mellitus are among the factors associated with an increased risk for PPHN. Recent data suggest that maternal use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors might represent another important risk factor for PPHN.