Surfactant therapy in late preterm infants

Murat Yurdakök


Late preterm (LPT) neonates are at a high risk for respiratory distress soon after birth due to respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), transient tachypnea of the newborn, persistent pulmonary hypertension, and pneumonia along with an increased need for surfactant replacement therapy, continuous positive airway pressure, and ventilator support when compared with the term neonates. In the past, studies on outcomes of infants with respiratory distress have primarily focused on extremely premature infants, leading to a gap in knowledge and understanding of the developmental biology and mechanism of pulmonary diseases in LPT neonates. Surfactant deficiency is the most frequent etiology of RDS in very preterm and moderately preterm infants, while cesarean section and lung infection play major roles in RDS development in LPT infants. The clinical presentation and the response to surfactant therapy in LPT infants may be different than that seen in very preterm infants. Incidence of pneumonia and occurrence of pneumothorax are significantly higher in LPT and term infants. High rates of pneumonia in these infants may result in direct injury to the type II alveolar cells of the lung with decreasing synthesis, release, and processing of surfactant. Increased permeability of the alveolar capillary membrane to both fluid and solutes is known to result in entry of plasma proteins into the alveolar hypophase, further inhibiting the surface properties of surfactant. However, the oxygenation index value do not change dramatically after ventilation or surfactant administration in LPT infants with RDS compared to very preterm infants. These finding may indicate a different pathogenesis of RDS in late preterm and term infants. In conclusion, surfactant therapy may be of significant benefit in LPT infants with serious respiratory failure secondary to a number of insults. However, optimal timing and dose of administration are not so clear in this group. Additional randomized, controlled studies and evidence-based guidelines are needed for optimal surfactant therapy in these infants.


Proceedings of the 9th International Workshop on Neonatology · Cagliari (Italy) · October 23rd-26th, 2013 · Learned lessons, changing practice and cutting-edge research


late preterm neonates; respiratory distress syndrome; pneumonia; pathogenesis; surfactant; ventilator therapy

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