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Surfactant Deficiency in Infants with Respiratory Distress Syndrome

11-15-2011 06:34 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: ONY Inc.

Surfactant Deficiency in Infants with Respiratory Distress Syndrome

November, 2011, New York:Infant respiratory distress syndrome is a breathing problem that affects 1 out of 10 premature infants. Almost all infants born before 28 weeks of pregnancy develop respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). The main cause of infant respiratory distress is surfactant deficiency in the lungs.

Surfactant is a oily substance that lines the air sacs in the lungs, which are called alveoli. Surfactant prevents the alveoli from collapsing every time the infant takes a breath. Premature infants have not developed enough surfactant and struggle to breathe because too few air sacs are open. RDS is usually diagnosed at birth or within the first few hours after birth.

Symptoms may include:
• Rapid, shallow breathing
• Visible difficulty in breathing
• Grunting sounds
• Flaring of the nostrils
• Occasional stoppage of breath, called apnea

To diagnose infant respiratory distress syndrome, the doctor may take a chest x ray, which shows the inside structure of the heart and lungs and can detect a collapsed lung that may require urgent treatment. Blood tests are also used to detect whether the infant has adequate levels of oxygen in his or her blood. Blood tests can also rule out whether breathing problems are caused by an infection. Lastly, doctors may use echocardiography, which helps to rule out heart defects as a cause of respiratory distress.

After diagnosis, surfactant deficiency can be treated with surfactant replacement therapy. In this method, a breathing tube is gently inserted into the mouth and down into the infant's windpipe. Then, a dose of surfactant in the form of a liquid is administered directly into the infant’s lungs. Breathing is assisted by hand or the breathing tube is attached to a mechanical ventilator and the surfactant is pushed deep into the lungs. Usually, one dose is sufficient to treat surfactant deficiency; however, some infants may require repeated treatment throughout the course of two to three days. After this time, the infant should start producing enough surfactant to breathe on his or her own.

During the treatment of infant respiratory distress syndrome, the infant should receive specialized care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Depending on the case, doctors may also provide treatment through oxygen therapy, which is administered through a mechanical ventilator that takes over the effort required to breathe. Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (NCPAP) may be another option.

Low mortality rate is the biggest advantage of using surfactant replacement therapy to treat neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) in infants. Infasurf is a pure lung surfactant that helps in improving the breathing process of the new-born patient suffering from RDS.

ONY, Inc.
1576 Sweet Home Rd.
Amherst, NY 14228
Tel: (716) 636-9096
Toll-free: (877) 274-4469
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, excluding holidays

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