HMD causes respiratory distress in the baby after birth and maybe mild needing a little bit of oxygen for a day or two or severe leading to respiratory failure and more intensive treatment. The chest x-ray shows typical features of haziness in the lung fields.
Severity of HMD is inversely proportional to gestational age. Antenatal steroids given to a mother at risk of delivering a premature baby reduces the incidence and severity of HMD.
Prematurity, maternal health, Caesarean section, condition of the baby at birth can influence disease severity.
Diagnosis is made on the basis of history, need for respiratory support after birth and chest x-ray changes of Surfactant deficiency.
Surfactant replacement therapy, respiratory support in addition to optimal neonatal care and management of complications (e.g. pneumothorax) limit the duration and severity of HMD. Respiratory support might be in the form of oxygen therapy, CPAP or mechanical ventilation in severe HMD when non-invasive support is ineffective in maintaining gas exchange.
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