Breathing problems and premature babies

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Learn about the premature lungs, which are among the last organs to develop in the womb. Read about lung problems the premature infant may encounter, how they are diagnosed and treated.

Key points

  • A baby's lungs do not start working until after birth and are slower to develop to maturity.
  • Premature babies often have some trouble breathing after birth; the more premature they are, the more difficulty they will have.
  • The majority of premature babies with lung complications survive, most without severe lasting effects.
  • Lung complications can also occur because of fluid in the lung, infection, abnormal development or poor gas exchange.
  • Premature babies with breathing problems are given a blood gas test to measure the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acid in the blood, which indicate the severity of the respiratory distress.
Last updated: October 31st 2009