Some infants, despite being born at low gestations (< 28 weeks gestational age) do not develop RDS and are not surfactant treated. The changes in lung function during the neonatal period in such infants have not been explored, hence it is unknown whether they are similar to those of surfactant treated infants with RDS of similar gestational age. Such data would facilitate assessment of the impact of surfactant administration on the lung function abnormalities of very immature infants with RDS. We, therefore, compared the results of neonatal lung function measurements from immature infants with RDS who received surfactant to those from infants with non-RDS respiratory distress not so treated and matched to the RDS infants for gestational age and within 10% of birthweight. Compliance and functional residual capacity FRC) were measured daily for the first five days and then at 1, 2 and 4 weeks in 16 infants, median gestational age 27 weeks (range 25–27 weeks). Although exogenous surfactant administration to the immature infants with RDS was associated with improvements in lung function, the non RDS, non surfactant treated infants had both higher compliance (p < 0.05) and lung volumes p < 0.01) throughout the perinatal period. These results demonstrate surfactant administration does not fully correct the perinatal lung function abnormalities of very immature infants with RDS.
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