HMD. Yes, surfactant is the magical substance that keeps the alveoli (air sacs) open. In premature newborns it is not made in sufficient quanitities to keep the air sacs open and as a result they develop respiratory failure due to a condition called hyaline membrane disease (hmd).
Yes. Pulm. Surfactant is primarily protein and lipid- is formed by the alveolar cells in the lungs. It reduces surface tension in the air sacs increasing compliance and prevents atelectasis/collapse of airways & keeps the air sacs dry. Rds (respiratory distress syndrome) is caused by a lack of surfactant and occurs commonly in premies less than 28-32 wks gestation. Artificial surfactants are available.