Research Article

Prognosis for infants with idiopathic respiratory distress syndrome.

Br Med J 1975; 3 doi: (Published 02 August 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;3:271
  1. N R Robertson,
  2. J P Tizard


    Infants with the idiopathic respiratory distress syndrome admitted to the intensive care unit during January 1972 to September 1974 were reviewed. The overall mortality rate for infants whose birth weight was 1000 g or more was under 10%, and for those who established spontaneous respiration after birth it was less than 5%. The hyperoxia test was not a useful guide to prognosis. It was possible on the basis of the infants' ability to establish spontaneous ventilation after birth to divide them into two groups. In those who established adequate ventilation the mortality rate was 4-5%; in those who did not it was 57%. This test should be generally applied, since not only does it give an immediate guide to the severity of the disease, which is better than that provided by birth weight, gestational age, or the hyperoxia test, but it may be applied to infants born in and outside a hospital providing neonatal intensive care. Improvement in the outlook for infants with a bad prognosis will be achieved only by improvements in perinatal care designed to minimize severe intrapartum asphyxia in infants of low birth weight.