Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) of infants, sometimes called
hyaline membrane disease, is a serious condition that most commonly occurs in
babies who are born before their lungs are fully developed. The lungs do not
fully inflate or function normally, making breathing difficult or impossible
without medical intervention.
RDS occurs when the lungs fail to produce enough surfactant, a
substance that helps the lungs stay properly inflated. Normally, the lungs
produce surfactant close to the time of birth. Babies born before the lungs
have produced this substance often require oxygen therapy or a ventilator
machine to help them breathe. A baby's lungs usually will improve after a
medicine form of surfactant is delivered through a breathing tube into the
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kimberly Dow, MD, FRCPC - Neonatology
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