Alphabetic Guide to Child Care - Hyaline membrane disease

Hyaline Membrane Disease

Hyaline membrane disease , now technically called the respiratory distress syndrome , is a disorder that affects approximately 50,000 newborn babies each year, and until recently was fatal for about half of them. The disorder occurs especially among premature infants, those born by caesarian section, and those with diabetic mothers. In premature infants, the immaturity of the lungs may result in a collapse of the air space within the lungs themselves when the first breath is exhaled. Each new breath then becomes a greater struggle, and with the spread of lung collapse, exhaustion and asphyxiation may occur.

A treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure is now being successfully used in many of the special hospital units equipped for newborns with disabilities. The therapy involves a pressure chamber that forces high-oxygen air into the lungs and keeps these air spaces open. Newborns who need this assistance acquire the ability to breathe normally in about a week.

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