New Treatment Could Reduce Chronic Disease

The problem is that while surfactant keeps the tiny air sacs inside the lungs from sticking together when they inflate and deflate while breathing, the delivery method causes trauma to the respiratory system and can lead to chronic lung disease, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, an MCG neonatologist.

In a new study, Dr. Bhatia, chief of the Department of Pediatrics’ Section of Neonatology in the School of Medicine, and doctors at the University of Southern California and the University of Oklahoma are studying 60 premature babies. Thirty will receive surfactant thetraditional way and another 30 will receive the substance through an endotracheal tube that is quickly removed. Those babies will then be placed on a less invasive Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device that gently pushes oxygen in through the nose.

“The idea behind this is that removing the tube as soon as you deliver the surfactant and putting them on a non-invasive nasal CPAP reduces the trauma,” Bhatia says. Of the 12.5 percent of babies born prematurely in the United States each year, over 50 percent of them will develop the disease, depending on how small they are when they are born, he says.

“If a baby is born at six months, we could be talking about three months of recovery time spent on a ventilator and oxygen before they reach the normal gestational age (36 weeks) and can typically breathe without support,” he says. “That’s a long time to be on a ventilator.” Doctors will reexamine the babies after one week and again at 36 weeks gestational age because chronic lung disease, which can last from one to five years, is often characterized by the need for additional oxygen after reaching 36 weeks. “The next strategies will have to be how to limit the time of being on a ventilator or positive pressure device”, Bhatia says.

MEDICA.de; Source: Society for Neuroscience