RDS Occurs in Premature Babies
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is also known as hyaline membrane disease. This occurs when a baby is born premature, before their body has had a chance to develop a special substance in the lungs that allows the lungs to function properly. Babies born with this condition have difficulty breathing on their own, and can eventually expire from the effort of trying to breathe. When a baby is born with this condition it is readily apparent and doctors will quickly move to treat the infant.
When a baby is born and she struggles to breathe, doctors will draw blood to rule out infection as a cause of their breathing trouble. If the blood tests show low amounts of oxygen, then the baby can be diagnosed with RDS. A chest X-ray may also be taken which will reveal the condition of the lungs. Depending on the severity and weight or condition of the baby, there are a number of treatments for RDS.
RDS Babies Given Warm Oxygen
In almost all cases, babies with RDS will be given warm, moist oxygen. The amount of oxygen they are given will be carefully monitored to reduce any side effects from getting too much oxygen.
Babies who suffer from repeated pauses in their breathing, or who have low oxygen levels but high carbon dioxide levels in their blood may be put on a breathing machine. This too will be carefully monitored as the mechanical breathing process can damage fragile or developing lung tissue in infants.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is another form of treatment that may be used in lieu of a breathing machine. This device delivers pressurized air to the baby, which may keep airways open.
There are also several different treatments available that can put oxygen directly into the infant’s blood. These are used if a baby can’t use a breathing machine. The baby can also be given nitric oxide to increase the oxygen levels in their blood.