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Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is respiratory distress syndrome?

Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a condition that causes breathing problems in newborns. This condition is 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.

What causes RDS?

Lungs that are not fully developed may not make enough surfactant. Surfactant is a substance made inside the tiny air sacs of the lung tissue. Surfactant keeps the tiny air sacs open so your baby can get enough oxygen as he or she breathes. Without enough surfactant, the air sacs collapse and cause breathing problems.

What increases my baby's risk for RDS?

What are the signs and symptoms of RDS?

Your baby may have any of the following:

How is RDS diagnosed?

Your baby's healthcare provider will do a physical exam on your baby. Your baby may need the following tests:

How is RDS treated?

Babies with RDS are usually taken to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Your baby may lie in an incubator or on a warming bed. Healthcare providers will watch your baby closely. They will do tests, watch bedside monitors, and check your baby often. Your baby may need any of the following:

What are the risks of RDS?

What can I do to help my baby while he or she has RDS?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. 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.

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