Patient Care

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (Children)

What is Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) in Children?

RDS is one of the conditions affecting babies with very low birth weight (VLBW).

As the lungs of premature newborns do not produce enough surfactant, which is a natural mixture of lipids and proteins, their air sacs are not well expanded and cannot function well for gas exchange.

Additionally, some premature babies are not yet strong enough to breathe effectively during the first few days of life.

What are the signs & symptoms of RDS in Children?

The premature baby will breathe rapidly, have in-drawing of the muscles of the chest wall or neck, and make a grunting sound. The baby will require oxygen delivered via a breathing device (ventilator or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)) to maintain normal blood oxygen levels.

Pre-surfactant administration
Pre-surfactant administration

Post-surfactant administration
Post-surfactant administration

How is RDS in Children diagnosed?

Doctors will make the diagnosis after examining the baby, with the help of blood tests and chest X-rays.

Air Leak
Air Leak

What are the treatment options for children with RDS?

Babies with RDS can be treated with surfactant and supported with breathing devices, either a ventilator (breathing machine) or a CPAP device. Following recovery from this respiratory condition, the progress of the baby depends on his or her overall general condition.

Occasionally, when the baby has severe RDS, air may leak out of the airways and prevent the lung from expanding. This can be treated immediately by placing a tube into the lung cavity to drain out the air.

Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

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  • Condition name 'Respiratory Distress Syndrome (Children)' AND
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National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
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  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
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  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
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  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
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