Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Its Treatment with Artificial Surfactant
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Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, previously called hyaline membrane disease, is a respiratory disease affecting premature newborns. Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome involves shallow breathing, pauses between breaths that last a few seconds, or apnea, and a bluish tinge to the infant’s skin. The syndrome occurs when microscopic sacs called alveoli in infant lungs do not produce surfactant, a liquid that coats the inside of the lungs and helps them inflate during breathing. Respiratory distress syndrome is the leading cause of death among premature infants and, in rare cases, it can affect full-term infants. Physicians can administer artificial, animal-derived surfactant to treat respiratory distress syndrome. As of 2017, the treatment has decreased the mortality rate of respiratory distress syndrome from almost one hundred percent to less than ten percent.