[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
March 21, 1980

Respiratory Distress in the Newborn

JAMA. 1980;243(11):1176-1179. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300370050028

RESPIRATORY distress in the newborn can occur after any delivery, but should be anticipated in high-risk infants, such as those born prematurely, after a difficult labor, by cesarean section, or of diabetic mothers. Respiratory distress in the neonate must be evaluated quickly and appropriate therapy planned, including transfer to a neonatal intensive care unit. A chest roentgenogram is essential to differentiate among the myriad causes of respiratory distress, which encompass medically and surgically treatable conditions.

Most of the time a cribside roentgenogram is obtained. The technique is simple, is not disturbing to the newborn, and produces roentgenograms of diagnostic quality.

Wet Lung Disease  A common cause of respiratory distress in the immediate newborn period is wet lung disease. Clinically, neonates with wet lung disease have tachypnea shortly after birth, which clears quickly within two to five days. A delay in the resorption of pulmonary alveolar fluid is common. The fluid