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Respiratory Distress Syndrome (Children)

Signs & Symptoms
Respiratory Distress Syndrome
 Pre-surfactant administration
Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Post-surfactant administration

Premature babies tend to have rapid breathing, exhibit in-drawing of the muscles of the chest wall or neck, and make grunting sounds. These babies require a breathing device or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) to deliver oxygen to them to maintain normal blood oxygen levels.

What causes it

The lungs of premature newborns do not produce enough surfactant, an essential mixture of lipids and protein required for air sacs expansion.

About the condition

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) is a condition that affects babies with very low birth weight (VLBW).

Without surfactant, air sacs are not expanded sufficiently for gas exchange. Additionally, some premature babies do not have the required strength during the first few days of life to breathe effectively.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Diagnosis is made based on physical examination, blood tests and chest X-rays. Babies with RDS are usually treated with surfactant and with the aid of either a ventilator or CPAP.

In some cases of severe RDS, air may leak out of the airways which prevents the lung from expanding. This can be promptly treated by inserting a tube into the lung cavity to drain out the air.
Clinical Outcome

Severity is determined by several factors, including the degree of prematurity and maternal conditions prior to delivery. The more premature a baby is, the more severe will be the expected RDS. Administering antenatal corticosteroids to pregnant women can reduce the risk of RDS in the premature newborn by about 40%. Between 2015 and 2019, 142 out of 268 (53%) VLBW babies in our department received surfactant replacement therapy for RDS.

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