Lighter Touch May Help Preemies Breathe Easier

Natalie Gossum, R.N., attends to Silas Roberson, 24 days old, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Natalie Gossum, R.N., attends to Silas Roberson, 24 days old, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.


Without mechanical ventilation, many premature infants would die—but its use can damage tiny, immature lungs.

A study published in Pediatrics suggests that early Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) might be a better option for some babies born with respiratory distress than a mechanical ventilator. Adults with sleep apnea use it to prevent airway collapse during sleep. In premature infants the effect is similar.

Dr. Mario Rojas, associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology, says his findings could help babies in developing countries.

“From a cost-benefit ratio, you can get a CPAP machine for less than $1,000 versus a ventilator for many times that amount.”

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