There are many causes related to the airways and lungs; meconium or blood aspiration (meconium or blood enters the lungs during birth process), delayed absorption of lung fluids, or a lung infection. Other causes which may cause the baby to show distress include conditions affecting other organ systems, for example, malformations of the heart and intestines, or early infection.
Babies with these conditions will be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for further care. Oxygen and/or other forms of respiratory support will be provided. Supportive measures include intravenous fluid therapy and antibiotics. Some babies with severe respiratory illness may need specialised breathing support such as high frequency oscillatory ventilation or nitric oxide.
Babies will show signs of respiratory distress such as breathing at a fast rate, have in-drawing movements of the chest wall, or appear to be bluish around the lips.