Surfactant Replacement Therapy

Topics: Pulmonology, Infant, Infant respiratory distress syndrome Pages: 4 (1410 words) Published: December 14, 2012
Each day adults breathe about 20,000 times. All of this breathing couldn't happen without our respiratory system. With each breath, you take in air through your nose and mouth, as you do so your lungs will gradually fill up and eventually empty out. For some surfactant deficient newly born infants however each breath takes immense exertion. This exertion makes each tiny breath like the very first. “The majority of preterm infants less than 30 weeks gestation require extra assistance in the delivery room. Exogenous surfactant therapy has been an integral part of neonatal intensive care unit care for the past 20 years. In the preterm infant population, surfactant use has substantially decreased mortality” (Wiswell). Prior to the discovery of surfactant upwards of 10,000 newborns died annually. An additional 15,000 were surfactant deficient as well; however these babies for unknown reasons were able to recover. In the 1950’s and 60’s this respiratory disease was referred to as Hyaline Membrane Disease and was the leading cause of infant mortality. It’s most familiar victim was the infant son of President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Their son Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died in August of 1963 just two days after his birth. He was five and a half weeks premature. Dr. Mary Ellen Avery was a Pediatric Resident at Johns Hopkins in the mid-1950s. During her tenure, she witnessed many babies becoming cyanotic and struggling to breathe while making grunting noises upon exhalation. This unknown condition was found to be most often fatal within the first three to four days, but if the infants survived those first few days the illness seemed to vanish. Originally it was believed that the hyaline membranes were caused by aspirated milk or amniotic fluid. Upon further research it was determined that the hyaline membranes themselves contained fibrinogen a protein found in blood. This meant these membranes originated from within the baby’s body. Further, autopsy results...
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