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A 39-year-old member asked:

Why can premature babies sometimes have trouble breathing?

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Nikolaos Zacharias
Maternal-Fetal Medicine 26 years experience
Lungs not ready.: Fetal lungs continue to mature until 39 weeks. Babies born prematurely have difficulty breathing because their lungs and muscles have not fully developed/matured and cannot process gas exchange efficiently. Prenatal Betamethasone shot to the mother can accelerate fetal lung maturity.
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics 46 years experience
Finish work missing: The lungs have finish work that must be completed before air breathing is done easily. Like painting the rooms as you finish your house, the lung tissue must form a liquid coating that lines the inside of the air sacs & prevents them from emptying when you exhale.If a premi isn't making enough, it causes the breathing problem because air sacs many don't stay open & baby works extra hard to breathe.

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Last updated Jan 27, 2017

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