Skip to main content

Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a condition that causes breathing problems in newborns. This condition is also called also called hyaline membrane disease. It may start within minutes to hours after your baby is born. It is most common in premature infants because their lungs may not be fully developed.



  • Bronchodilators: This medicine may be given to open up your baby's airways so that he or she can breathe easier.
  • Diuretics: This medicine may be given to help your baby's body get rid of extra fluid or water. This may help your baby breathe easier.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell the provider if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


Your baby may need extra oxygen to help him or her breathe easier. It may be given through a plastic mask over his or her mouth and nose. It may be given through a pair of short, thin tubes that rest just inside his or her nose. Tell your baby's pediatrician if his or her nose gets dry or if your baby has redness or sores on his or her skin.

Follow up with your baby's pediatrician as directed:

Your baby will need close follow up. Ask when you should bring your baby in for his or her next visit. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your baby's visits.

Do not expose your baby to smoke:

This includes cigarette and other tobacco smoke. Never smoke around or allow others to smoke around your baby because it can irritate your baby's lungs.

Contact your baby's pediatrician if:

  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby is not eating as much as he or she should be.
  • You think your baby is losing weight or not gaining weight.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your baby has a hard time breathing, or has pauses in his or her breathing.
  • Your baby's lips or nails are blue.
  • Your baby's symptoms do not get better or get worse.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.