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How Can Respiratory Distress Syndrome Be Prevented?

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
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illegal drugs
  • Managing any medical conditions you have
  • Preventing infections

If you're having a planned cesarean delivery (C-section), your doctor can do tests before delivery to show whether it's likely that your baby's lungs are fully developed. These tests assess the age of the fetus or lung maturity.

Your doctor may give you injections of a corticosteroid medicine if he or she thinks you may give birth too early. This medicine can speed up surfactant production and development of the lungs, brain, and kidneys in your baby.

Treatment with corticosteroids can reduce your baby's risk of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). If the baby does develop RDS, it will probably be fairly mild.

Corticosteroid treatment also can reduce the chances that your baby will have bleeding in the brain.

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Last Updated: January 24, 2012