Normal pulmonary function is dependent upon maturation and maintenance of the biochemical synthesis of a unique specie of disaturated lecithin. The latter effectively combats surface tension and permits the alveolus to remain open at low transpulmonary pressures. The synthesis of this surfactant (antiatelectasis factor) appears reduced by intrauterine asphyxia. This may be etiologically important in respiratory distress syndrome of the newborn.
Brumley GW. Lung Development and Lecithin Metabolism. Arch Intern Med. 1971;127(3):413–414. doi:10.1001/archinte.1971.00310150073009