n South African Journal of Child Health - Early surfactant therapy and nasal continuous positive airways pressure for mild respiratory distress syndrome - a pilot study

Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1994-3032
  • E-ISSN: 1999-7671



To determine if the administration of porcine surfactant 100 mg/kg within 24 hours after birth, to infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) receiving nasal continuous positive airways pressure (NCPAP) and inspired oxygen (FiO) 0.3 - 0.4, decreased the need for mechanical ventilation (MV) during the first week of life compared with infants in whom the required FiO was allowed to rise above 0.4 before surfactant was administered.

A study of 102 infants was planned, but terminated early due to slow recruitment, and is presented as pilot data. Twenty-seven preterm infants were randomised into either a low- or a high-threshold group. The low-threshold group received surfactant immediately and the high-threshold group received surfactant if their FiO rose above 0.4. Infants who received surfactant were returned to NCPAP if respiratory effort was adequate.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town.
The mean gestational age for the entire cohort was 31±2 weeks. There were no significant differences between the groups with regard to the need for MV in the first week of life. However, the duration of any form of assisted ventilation (NCPAP and MV) was less in the low-threshold group (=0.042), and this group had a lower mean PaCO at 24 hours (=0.015).
In this pilot study, the administration of 100 mg/kg porcine surfactant to preterm infants with RDS requiring NCPAP at a threshold FiO of 0.3 - 0.4 improved alveolar ventilation and reduced the duration of any form of assisted ventilation compared with waiting until the FiO was >0.4. There was no significant reduction in the need for MV.

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