What is Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns?

November 19, 2018 | Crandall & Pera Law
What is Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Newborns?

Most labor and deliveries go exactly as planned, with mother and baby both healthy and happy. However, there are instances where things go wrong and the child suffers a birth injury. Sometimes these injuries can't be avoided. Sometimes they occur due to negligence and improper care. Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a condition in some newborns characterized by breathing difficulties. It happens when the baby's body fails to produce enough of a substance called surfactant, which lubricates the lungs. Because of this, babies with RDS have difficulty expanding their lungs, making it hard for them to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. When a newborn fails to get enough oxygen to their brain, they can suffer serious birth injuries, like brain damage or cerebral palsy.

Causes of RDS

RDS is most prevalent in newborns and relatively uncommon in full-term infants. Almost all babies born before 28 weeks will develop RDS. Premature birth makes the risk so high because surfactant helps the lungs stay open. Without enough surfactant, the lungs collapse and make it extremely difficult for the baby to breathe. Other causes or risks for RDS include:
    • Twins/multiples
    • Maternal diabetes
    • Maternal hemorrhaging
    • Rapid labor
    • Older sibling who had RDS

Preventing respiratory distress syndrome

The best way to prevent RDS birth injuries is to prevent premature birth, or provide the appropriate care and treatment if premature birth is inevitable. Prenatal care is the key to preventing premature birth and the risk of RDS. Obstetricians should check for complications that might increase the risk of premature birth and provide proper medical intervention. If it's not possible to prevent premature birth, doctors can perform tests to check on the development of the baby's lungs to detect the risk of RDS.

Complications of RDS

RDS can cause long-term complications and birth injuries if not treated or treated improperly:
    • Collapsed lung
    • Pneumothorax
    • Hemorrhage
    • Asthma
    • Sepsis
    • Intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds)
    • Brain damage
    • Intellectual disabilities
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Blindness and vision problems
If your child has suffered a birth injury, an attorney can answer all of your questions. When you're pregnant, your doctor should provide you proper prenatal care, as well as monitoring during delivery. If they fail to do so, your child is at risk for a birth injury. If this happened to you and your baby, the lawyers at Crandall & Pera can help. Please call 877-686-8879, or fill out our contact form, and schedule your free consultation with an experienced birth injury lawyer at one of our offices in Ohio or Kentucky.