It has been stated that more than one third of all deaths of infants occur during the first two weeks of life.1 Asphyxia and atelectasis are listed second only to prematurity as the cause of death in the neonatal period.1 Few symptoms are the source of more concern to the pediatrician than dyspnea and cyanosis in the newborn infant. In many instances, although definite abnormal physical signs in the heart and lungs are not elicited, a diagnosis of congenital atelectasis is made. In some cases the symptoms become progressive and lead to death despite therapeutic measures such as clearing of the air passages, administration of oxygen, stimulation and blood transfusions. Many physicians when confronted with dyspnea and cyanosis in the newborn have had a feeling of inadequacy from the aspect both of accurate diagnosis and of adequate treatment.
This sense of inadequacy can be relieved in part by recognizing
GUMBINER B, CUTLER MM. SPONTANEOUS PNEUMOMEDIASTINUM IN THE NEWBORN. JAMA. 1941;117(24):2050-2054. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820500032006