Neonatal Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory distress in the neonate most commonly presents as one or all of the following physical signs: tachypnea, grunting, nasal flaring, retractions, and cyanosis. A normal respiratory rate in a new-born is between 30 and 60 breaths/min; tachypnea is classified as respiratory rates greater than 60 breaths/min.

Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a problem often seen in premature babies. The condition makes it hard for the baby to breathe. The disease is mainly caused by a lack of a slippery substance in the lungs called surfactant. This substance helps the lungs fill with air and keeps the air sacs from deflating. Surfactant is present when the lungs are fully developed.

Neonatal RDS can also be due to genetic problems with lung development. Most cases of RDS occur in babies born before 37 to 39 weeks. The more premature the baby is, the higher the chance of RDS after birth. The problem is uncommon in babies born full-term (after 39 weeks).

  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia

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