Babies that are premature or high risk for the problem need to be treated at birth by a medical team that specializes in newborn breathing problems.
Giving artificial surfactant to an infant has been shown to be helpful. More research still needs to be done on which babies should get this treatment and how much of the substance to use.
Infants will be given warm, moist oxygen. However, this treatment needs to be monitored carefully to avoid side effects from too much oxygen.
A breathing machine can be lifesaving for some babies. Breathing machines can damage the lung tissue so use should be avoided when possible. Babies may need to use a breathing machine if they have:
- High levels of carbon dioxide in the arteries
- Low blood oxygen in the arteries
- Low blood pH (acidity)
- Repeated pauses in breathing
A treatment called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may prevent the need for a breathing machine in many babies. CPAP uses a device that sends air into the nose to help keep the airways open.
Babies with RDS need close care. This includes:
- Having a calm setting
- Gentle handling
- Staying at an ideal body temperature
- Carefully managing fluids and nutrition
- Treating infections right away