Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) of infants, sometimes called
hyaline membrane disease, is a serious condition that most commonly occurs in
babies who are born before their lungs are fully developed. The lungs do not
fully inflate or function normally, making breathing difficult or impossible
without medical intervention.
RDS occurs when the lungs fail to produce enough surfactant, a
substance that helps the lungs stay properly inflated. Normally, the lungs
produce surfactant close to the time of birth. Babies born before the lungs
have produced this substance often require oxygen therapy or a ventilator
machine to help them breathe. A baby's lungs usually will improve after a
medicine form of surfactant is delivered through a breathing tube into the
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kimberly Dow, MD, FRCPC - Neonatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.