Research Article

Non-specificity of surfactant deficiency in neonatal respiratory disorders.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 02 June 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1635
  1. D K James,
  2. M L Chiswick,
  3. A Harkes,
  4. M Williams,
  5. J Hallworth


    The phospholipid content of lung fluid taken from 77 babies during the first day of life was studied. Babies with hyaline membrane disease had low concentrations of the surfactant phospholipids phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylinositol, and phosphatidylglycerol. The palmitic acid content in phosphatidylcholine was also lower than normal. Surfactant deficiency was not, however, specific for hyaline membrane disease, as similar phospholipid abnormalities were observed in babies with congenital pneumonia and transient tachypnoea of the newborn. These findings have important clinical implications. They are relevant to research into surfactant substitution and cast doubts on the value of the antenatal phospholipid lung profile of amniotic fluid in predicting the risk of hyaline membrane disease.