Surfactant and Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Respiratory distress syndrome in infant is a syndrome in premature infants caused by developmental insufficiency of surfactant production and structural immaturity in the lungs. It can also be a consequence of neonatal infection. It can also result from a genetic problem with the production of surfactant associated proteins. IRDS affects about 1% of newborn infants and is the leading cause of death in preterm infants. The incidence decreases with advancing gestational age, from about 50% in babies born at 26–28 weeks, to about 25% at 30–31 weeks. The syndrome is more frequent in infants of diabetic mothers and in the second born of premature twins. IRDS is distinct from pulmonary hypoplasia, another leading cause of neonatal death that involves respiratory distress.

In this video I have explained about surfactant, composition of surfactant, differentiation of pneumocytes into type I pneumocytes and type II pneumocytes. Type of phospholipid in surfactant the major being dipalmitoyl phosphotidyl choline which is also called as dipalmitoyl lecithin. Deficiency of surfactant is seen in pre-mature babies and it will lead to infant respiratory distress syndrome which is seen shortly after birth with apnea, tachycardia, respiratory grunting, flaring of nostril, cyanosis, chest wall retraction, atelectasis, ground glass appearance with air branchogram.