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10 February 2021

Nihal Erdoğan

Pediatrics Specialist

Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome

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  • How is respiratory of neonatal?
  • The oxygen need of the unborn baby is met through the umbilical cord. There is some amniotic fluid inside the baby's lungs. When the birth approaches, the fluid in the baby's lungs begins to clear. The remaining little fluid is thrown out via the vagina as the baby is delivered from the vagina during birth. As soon as he is born, the baby's lungs are opened with the first breath and coughing, by replacing the inside fluid with air. This fluid is absorbed by the small capillaries of the lungs during the baby breathing. This mechanism usually happens in the first 2-6 hours after birth. In some deliveries, the discharge of this fluid can be delayed, and no oxygen exchange occurs in some of the lungs. In this case, the baby cannot get the needed oxygen, and may develop some breath troubles.


  • Why does respiratory distress occur?
  • The exact cause of respiratory distress in newborn babies is unknown. Moreover, it is not possible to predict which babies will develop respiratory distress after birth. It is possible to be more common in babies with some risk factors. However, respiratory distress may develop without these risk factors.
  • Respiratory distress may be caused by some problems arising from the lungs, heart diseases or reasons that adversely affect the central nervous system, as well as obstruction in the digestive system of the baby, congenital metabolic diseases, and some gastrointestinal diseases.


  • Which babies are more common?
  • This condition can develop in babies prematurely born, by cesarean section or with a low birth weight, those who make their first stool in the womb, those having some infectious diseases, or whose mothers have diabetes, asthma or smoke.
  • What are the symptoms?
  • Respiratory distress is usually manifested by the rapid breathing of the baby. If the respiratory rate per minute is above 60, it gives the idea that the baby has respiratory distress. At the same time, the baby's inability to feed, reluctance to suck, moaning, opening and closing of the nasal wings, and being pulled into the chest are also indicators of respiratory distress. In babies with severe respiratory distress, bruising in the skin color and occasional cessation of breathing may also be observed. In such cases, the baby should never be fed and should be treated under intensive care conditions.


  • How is it diagnosed?
  • When respiratory distress is detected in newborn babies, it is first investigated what the problem is. In order to distinguish the conditions that may cause respiratory distress, the diagnosis of the disease is made after chest radiography, blood tests and blood gas measurements are made.


  • How is it treated?
  • The mode of treatment depends on the severity of the respiratory distress. Sometimes, there may be situations in which the baby needs to be provided with oxygen for days by inserting a serum, because the baby cannot be fed while oxygen is only given in the incubator. Some babies may even need to be connected to a respirator. This treatment process takes about a week in normal babies and may take 10-15 days in some babies. The small size of the baby or the complications that may develop in the baby may prolong this process further. Neonatal respiratory distress can heal smoothly with a simple and good treatment without leaving too many problems for the future. It is of great importance that the delivery is carried out in a full-fledged hospital against the risk of respiratory distress.



Spec. Dr. Nihal ERDOĞAN

Pediatry Department