Taking steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy might prevent your infant from being born before his or her lungs have fully developed. These steps include:
- Seeing your doctor regularly during your pregnancy
- Following a healthy diet
- Not smoking and avoiding tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illegal drugs
- Controlling any ongoing medical conditions you have
- Preventing infection
If your doctor thinks that you're going to give birth too early, he or she may give you injections of a corticosteroid medicine.
The medicine can speed up surfactant production in your baby. Surfactant is a liquid that coats the inside of the lungs. It helps keep them open so your infant can breathe in air once he or she is born.
Usually, within about 24 hours of your taking this medicine, the baby's lungs start making enough surfactant. This will reduce the infant's risk of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), which can lead to bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
Corticosteroids also can help your baby's lungs, brain, and kidneys develop more quickly while he or she is in the womb.
If your baby does develop RDS, it will probably be fairly mild. If the RDS isn't mild, BPD will likely develop.