How to prevent infant respiratory distress syndrome?Since IRDS is one of many conditions that usually occur in a premature infant, every effort is usually made to help mothers carry babies to term. Ideally, this effort begins with the first prenatal visit, which should be scheduled as soon as a mother discovers that she is pregnant. Good prenatal care results in larger, healthier babies and fewer premature births. The best
way of preventing RDS is to delay delivery until the fetal lungs have matured and are producing enough surfactant -- generally at about 37 weeks of pregnancy.
If a mother does goes into labor prematurely, every effort is made to stop the labor and allow the pregnancy to continue to full term. A lab test called the L/S ratio (a measurement of the fetus's lung maturity) is made and labor is usually halted until the L/S ratio shows that the lungs have matured. The infant's chances of not developing IRDS, if not 100%, are at least improved. If a very premature infant is born without symptoms of infant respiratory distress syndrome, it may be wise to deliver surfactant to its lungs. This may prevent infant respiratory distress syndrome, or make it less severe if it does develop. An alternative is to wait until the first symptoms of infant respiratory distress syndrome appear and then immediately give surfactant. Pneumothorax may be prevented by frequently checking the blood oxygen content, and limiting oxygen treatment under pressure to the minimum needed.