Respiratory distress syndrome
The more preterm the infants, the higher the chance of them getting it. A birth at 39 weeks will usually be okay, whereas the 26 week baby will almost certainly have it.
Surfactant is a liquid, similar to washing up liquid, produced by type II pneumocytes in the lungs. It descreases the surface tension within the lungs, meaning that the lungs can fill fairly equally and easily, rather than being like trying to fill a blancmange with air. In RDS, the lungs aren't ready to produce surfactant, and so a lot more forced is required to keep the lungs open.
Also, the lungs are not fully developed, leading to thickened cell walls, and thus poor gas exchange. This makes the problem worse, since the little air the infant is getting inside isn't being utilised properly.
- Being born prematurely.
- Low birth weight
- Mum not given glucocorticoids.
That's about it.
Within 4 hours of birth, neonates develop;
- Expiratory grunting (trying to maintain open airways)
Xray will show a distinctive "ground glass" appearance, where the heart border is also indistinct. I think that's the main investigation.
Glucocorticoids given to the mother, if a preterm birth is expected, are shown to stimulate foetal surfactant production.