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What's the treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome?

High-risk and premature infants require prompt attention by a pediatric resuscitation team. First, the infant is given high oxygen and humidity concentrations. Infants with mild symptoms are given supplemental oxygen. It is important to guard against too much oxygen, as this may damage the retina and cause loss of vision. Using an oximeter to keep track of the

blood oxygen level, repeated artery punctures or heel sticks can be avoided.

Those with severe symptoms are managed on a ventilator to deliver both oxygen and pressure to keep the lungs inflated. In tiny infants who do not breathe when born, ventilation through a tracheal tube is an emergency procedure. Assisted ventilation must be closely supervised, as too much pressure can cause further lung damage. A gentler way of assisting breathing, continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP, delivers an oxygen mixture through nasal prongs or a tube placed through the nose rather than an endotracheal tube. CPAP may be tried before resorting to a ventilator, or after an infant placed on a ventilator begins to improve. Drugs that stimulate breathing may speed the recovery process.

An artificial lung surfactant is sometimes delivered through an endotracheal tube into the lungs of an infant at high risk for respiratory distress syndrome immediately after birth. Studies find that this treatment can prevent or improve the course of respiratory distress syndrome. Enough research has been done on surfactants to show that they reduce death from IRDS. Typically the infant will be able to breathe more easily within a few days at the most, and complications such as lung rupture are less likely to occur. The drug is continued until the infant starts producing its own surfactant. There is a risk of bleeding into the lungs from surfactant treatment; about 10% of the smallest infants are affected.

 

More information on infant respiratory distress syndrome

What is infant respiratory distress syndrome? - Infant respiratory distress syndrome is a breathing disorder that is present at birth. The disease is caused by a lack of lung surfactant.
What causes infant respiratory distress syndrome? - Infant respiratory distress syndrome is caused by lack of surfactant in the lungs of premature infants.
What're the symptoms of infant respiratory distress syndrome? - The breathing of an infant with infant respiratory distress syndrome will be rapid and labored either at birth or within a few hours of birth.
How is infant respiratory distress syndrome diagnosed? - Infant respiratory distress syndrome is diagnosed based upon the symptoms present at birth and the known risk factors for the infant.
What is the treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome? - High-risk and premature infants with infant respiratory distress syndrome require prompt attention by a pediatric resuscitation team.
How to prevent infant respiratory distress syndrome? - The best way of preventing RDS is to delay delivery until the fetal lungs have matured and are producing enough surfactant.
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