Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) in Neonates

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What is the primary cause of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)?

Pulmonary surfactant deficiency

At what gestational age is respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) typically seen?

Less than 37 weeks

What is a complication of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)?

Tension pneumothorax

How is respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) diagnosed?

Clinically and with chest x-ray

What is a consequence of surfactant deficiency in respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)?

Alveoli close or fail to open

Study Notes

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)

  • Caused by pulmonary surfactant deficiency
  • Typically occurs in neonates born at < 37 weeks gestation
  • Deficiency worsens with increasing prematurity

Effects of Surfactant Deficiency

  • Alveoli close or fail to open
  • Lungs become diffusely atelectatic
  • Triggers inflammation and pulmonary edema

Complications of RDS

  • Respiratory insufficiency
  • Increased risk of:
    • Intraventricular hemorrhage
    • Tension pneumothorax
    • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    • Sepsis
    • Death


  • Clinically diagnosed
  • Confirmed with chest x-ray
  • Exclude pneumonia and sepsis by appropriate cultures

Test your knowledge of Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), a condition that affects neonates born prematurely, causing pulmonary surfactant deficiency, alveoli closure, and respiratory insufficiency. Learn about the risks and complications associated with RDS, including intraventricular hemorrhage and bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

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