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Respiratory Distress in Premature Infants

12-13-2011 07:03 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: ONY, Inc.

New York, NY:Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a breathing condition common in premature infants whose lungs have not fully developed yet. The earlier the birth in gestational time, the more prone the infant is to RDS and the more severe it is likely to be.

Fully developed lungs are coated with a naturally occurring slippery substance called surfactant. Surfactant lines the air sacs in the lungs and reduces surface tension. This prevents them from collapsing and allows lungs to draw in a full breath of air. Infants begin producing surfactant at around 26 to 34 weeks of pregnancy; therefore, those born prematurely may not have sufficient levels of surfactant to breathe normally. Respiratory distress syndrome in infants is usually diagnosed within a few hours of birth.

There are several factors that increase the risk of respiratory distress syndrome in infants:

-Diabetes in the mother
-Delivery complications that reduce blood flow to the baby
-Multiple pregnancy (having twins or more)
-Rapid labor
-A brother or sister who had RDS

Emergency cesarean sections also increase the risk of RDS. If a c-section is planned, tests can be performed to assess whether it is likely that the infant's lungs are fully developed. If the doctor thinks premature birth is likely, he or she could administer corticosteroids to speed up surfactant production and lung development. Usually the infant begins producing adequate amounts of surfactant within 24 hours of the mother receiving corticosteroids.

If respiratory distress syndrome develops, several courses of treatment are available. One or more methods may be used depending on the particular case. Artificial surfactant therapy is an important option, where surfactant is directly administered to the infant’s lungs through a breathing tube. Another method is using a mechanical ventilator to assist in breathing. A method know as nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) can also deliver air by pushing pressurized air into the lungs through small tubes inserted into the nose. Infants with respiratory Extra oxygen: infants with respiratory
distress syndrome require a higher level of oxygen. Room air can be combined with pure oxygen and delivered via a ventilator or NCPAP.

Treatment depends on various factors including: the infant's gestational age; his or her overall health; the severity of the respiratory distress; the doctor's expectations for prognosis; and the infant's tolerance of treatment.

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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