Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Optimising the management of respiratory distress in late preterm and early term babies

Respiratory distress is a common reason for neonatal unit admission in late preterm and early term infants. These babies are also more likely than their full-term counterparts to experience long-term respiratory problems. A lack of research in this large group of babies has led to very wide variation in clinical practice, which may affect outcomes. The SurfON multicentre trial is investigating whether early administration of surfactant, when compared to expectant management, reduces the length of neonatal hospital stay and reduces the progression to more severe respiratory illness for late preterm and early term babies with respiratory distress.

Elaine M Boyle1
Professor of Neonatal Medicine

Charles C Roehr2,3
Professor of Neonatology and Perinatal Research
On behalf of the SurfON Study co-investigators and colleagues at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit Clinical Trials Unit (TABLE 1)

1Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester
2National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford

3Southmead Hospital, North Bristol Trust
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late preterm; early term; respiratory distress; surfactant
Key points
  1. Late preterm and early term babies are a large and under-researched group.
  2. Management of respiratory distress in mature infants born before full term varies widely.
  3. The SurfON Study is a large multicentre randomised controlled trial of early surfactant compared with expectant management in babies born at 34-38 weeks of gestation with respiratory distress.

Also published in Infant:

Surfactant therapy – past, present and future
Surfactant replacement therapy for newborn infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) has been available for about 35 years. During this time practice has evolved in relation to type of surfactant, timing and mode of administration. This review looks briefly at the history of surfactant use and how this has changed to shape current practice. We also speculate on potential future innovations that may further refine how this life-saving therapy is used.