How can one prevent Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jul 11, 2011

You can take steps to help ensure that your infant isn't born before his or her lungs have developed completely. These steps include:

  • Seeing your doctor regularly during your pregnancy
  • Following a healthy diet
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illegal drugs
  • Controlling any ongoing medical conditions you have
  • Preventing infection

If you're having a planned cesarean delivery (C-section), your doctor can do tests before delivery to show whether it's likely that your baby's lungs are fully developed. These tests assess the age of the fetus or lung maturity.


Your doctor may give you injections of a corticosteroid medicine if he or she thinks you may give birth too early. This medicine can speed up surfactant production and development of the lungs, brain, and kidneys in your baby.

Usually, within about 24 hours of your taking the medicine, the baby's lungs start making enough surfactant. This will reduce the infant's risk for respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). If the baby does develop RDS, it will probably be relatively mild.


If you start taking the corticosteroid medicine at least 15 hours before you deliver, it also can reduce the chances that your baby will have any bleeding in the brain.



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