Treatment options for babies born with RDS will depend on the baby’s gestational age, overall health and medical history, as well as the extent and severity of the condition. Treatments for RDS can include:
- Placing an endotracheal tube into the baby’s windpipe
- Using a mechanical breathing machine to breathe for the baby
- Supplemental oxygen
- Medications to help sedate the baby and ease pain during treatment
- Continuous positive airway pressure: a breathing machine that continually pushes a flow of air or oxygen into the lungs
- Surfactant replacement: artificial surfactant has been shown to reduce the severity of RDS, particularly when started within the first six hours after birth; it can either be used as a preventative treatment for babies at high risk for RDS or as a rescue method
The use of artificial surfactant can be greatly beneficial, but how much should be given and which babies should receive is are still very controversial questions.