respiratory distress syndrome

1. Also called hyaline membrane disease. an acute lung disease of the newborn, occurring primarily in premature babies and babies born to ill mothers, characterized by rapid breathing, flaring of the nostrils, inelastic lungs, edema of the extremities, and in some cases the formation of a hyaline membrane on the lungs caused by a lack of surfactant in the immature lung tissue.
2. Also called adult respiratory distress syndrome. a disorder, caused by an acute illness or injury that affects the lungs either directly or indirectly, resulting in stiffening of the lung tissue, pulmonary edema, and extreme shortness of breath. Abbr.: RDS
[1965-70]

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Common complication in newborns, especially after premature birth.

Symptoms include very laboured breathing, bluish skin tinge, and low blood oxygen levels. Insufficient surfactant in the pulmonary alveoli raises surface tension, hampering lung expansion. The alveoli collapse (see atelectasis), and a "glassy" (hyaline) membrane develops in the alveolar ducts. Once the leading cause of death in premature infants, the syndrome is now usually treated for a few days with a mechanical ventilator (see respiratory therapy), with no aftereffects. An adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) can follow lung injury.

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Universalium. 2010.

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