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What are some common problems with babies' lungs?

There are many kinds of infant breathing disorders that can be a result of being born too early. In fact, some important parts of the lungs don't develop until closer to the end of pregnancy. For example, when a baby is born prematurely, he or she lacks the lungs' naturally occurring surfactant and has more tension and friction in the lungs.

When a baby is born prematurely, the medical staff should be aware that the lungs may not be fully developed and be prepared to treat the child accordingly. If the team does not provide oxygen, an incubator or other necessary treatments or medical supplies, then you may have a case of negligence on your hands.

Infant breathing disorders should be recognizable fairly easily. The child may not be breathing in severe cases or may have irregular breathing, make grunting sounds when breathing or have visible retractions when the chest is pulled inward due to strain.

Most of the time, prematurity is the main cause of breathing disorders in children with underdeveloped lungs. Congenital defects can also affect the lungs, although this is less common. In cases of prematurity, the earlier the child is born, the more likely he or she is to suffer from breathing disorders.

Some common kinds of breathing disorders that may occur include pneumonia, apnea and respiratory distress syndrome. Pneumonia may develop if the child inhales meconium, his or her first stool, through aspiration. If the neurological system is not mature, apnea may occur, which can make your baby stop breathing at random times. Respiratory distress syndrome occurs when surfactant has not developed. It can lead to the lungs collapsing.

Source: HealthLine, "Lung Development and Infant Breathing Disorders," MaryAnn DePietro, accessed Oct. 25, 2016

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