Common complication in newborns, especially after premature birth. Symptoms include very laboured breathing, bluish skin tinge, and low blood oxygen levels. Insufficient surfactant in the pulmonary alveoli raises surface tension, hampering lung expansion. The alveoli collapse (see atelectasis), and a “glassy” (hyaline) membrane develops in the alveolar ducts. Once the leading cause of death in premature infants, the syndrome is now usually treated for a few days with a mechanical ventilator (see respiratory therapy), with no aftereffects. An adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) can follow lung injury.
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