Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns
RDS happens when an infant's lungs have not developed enough. Immature lungs lack a fluid called surfactant that helps the lungs open wide and take in air. The lungs do not open well without it. This makes it hard to breathe.
|Respiratory System of an Infant
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RDS is more common in:
- Babies who are born very early
- Babies born to mothers with diabetes
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Lack of oxygen during birth
- The baby's blood entering the mother's circulation before or during delivery
- Cesarean section delivery
- A twin or triplet pregnancy
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
Problems usually happen right after birth or within a few hours. They may be:
- Fast breathing
- Pauses in breathing
- Grunting noise with every breath
- A chest that sinks in between the ribs or under the ribcage with each breath
- Flaring of the nostrils
- Blue color around the lips
The goal of treatment is to support and promote breathing. This can be done with:
- Oxygen therapy or breathing support
- Surfactant to help open the lungs
- Inhaled nitric oxide to make it easier for oxygen to pass into the blood
- Nutrition therapy with an IV or a feeding tube
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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