Respiratory Distress in the Newborn

Hermansen, Christian L.; Lorah, Kevin N.
October 2007
American Family Physician;10/1/2007, Vol. 76 Issue 7, p987
Academic Journal
The most common etiology of neonatal respiratory distress is transient tachypnea of the newborn; this is triggered by excessive lung fluid, and symptoms usually resolve spontaneously. Respiratory distress syndrome can occur in premature infants as a result of surfactant deficiency and underdeveloped lung anatomy. Intervention with oxygenation, ventilation, and surfactant replacement is often necessary. Prenatal administration of corticosteroids between 24 and 34 weeks' gestation reduces the risk of respiratory distress syndrome of the newborn when the risk of preterm delivery is high. Meconium aspiration syndrome is thought to occur in utero as a result of fetal distress by hypoxia. The incidence is not reduced by use of amnioinfusion before delivery nor by suctioning of the infant during delivery. Treatment options are resuscitation, oxygenation, surfactant replacement, and ventilation. Other etiologies of respiratory distress include pneumonia, sepsis, pneumothorax, persistent pulmonary hypertension, and congenital malformations; treatment is disease specific. Initial evaluation for persistent or severe respiratory distress may include complete blood count with differential, chest radiography, and pulse oximetry.


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