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Treatment of the Immature Lung

Extremely premature babies who have respiratory distress but show no specific reason for that distress may have an immature lung. If the baby does not respond to surfactant replacement therapy, this can be another indication of an immature lung. Although immature lungs may appear normal on X-ray, the alveoli, which are the small sacs lining the lung where gas exchange takes place, may not have developed or may not have developed enough. For this reason, surfactant may not improve breathing or not improve it by much. Babies suspected of having an immature lung may be given:

  • surfactant replacement therapy
  • oxygen
  • continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or
  • mechanical ventilation
More information

Andrew James, MBChB, MBI, FRACP, FRCPC

Jaques Belik, MD, FRCPC