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Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns


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

Follow up with your child's pediatrician as directed:

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

Do not expose your child to smoke:

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

Contact your child's pediatrician if:

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

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

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

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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 (Discharge Care)

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