Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Respiratory: neonatal respiratory distress syndrome

Contributor(s): Timothy Mair, Wendy E Vaala, Nicola Menzies-Gow

Introduction

  • Cause: frequently related to prematurity/dysmaturity due to insufficient surfactant in the lungs. Caesarean section and induced parturition can also contribute.
  • Prolonged or difficult parturition can cause acidosis in the foal which can also lead to respiratory distress.
  • Signs: tachypnea, nostril flaring, increased breathing effort, grunting and pale or cyanotic mucous membranes.
  • Diagnosis: history, signs, auscultation, radiography, biochemistry, cytopathology.
  • Treatment: intensive supportive therapy is essential for survival.
  • Prognosis: guarded.
    Print off the Owner factsheet on Respiratory problems in your horse - not a good wheeze! to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

Predisposing factors

General

Specific

  • Fetal acidosis.

Pathophysiology

Prematurity/dysmaturity
  • Insufficient surfactant → incomplete inflation (atelectasis) of the lungs → increased respiratory effort and distress → increased susceptibility to pneumonia.
Fetal acidosis
  • Prolonged or difficult parturition → acidosis. The increased carbon dioxide tension of the blood, with the depleted bicarbonate, stimulates the respiratory center → increased rate and depth of respiration.
  • If hypovolemic shock is severe, may → depressed respiratory function → further accumulation of hydrogen ions and accentuated acidosis.

Timecourse

  • Acute.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Perkins G, Ainsworth D M, Erb H N, Del Piero F, Miller M, Wilkins P A, Palmer J & Frazer M (2000) Clinical, haemotological and biochemical findings in foals with neonatal Equine herpesvirus- 1 infection compared with septic and premature foals. Equine Vet J 31 (5), 422-426 PubMed.
  • Stoneham S J (1998) Respiratory distress in the neonatal foal. Equine Vet Educ 10 (5), 242-249 VetMedResource.
  • Webb A I et al (1984) Developments in management of the newborn foal distress 2: treatment. Equine Vet J 16 (4), 319-323 PubMed.
  • Rossdale P et al (1967) Respiratory distress in a newborn foal with failure to form lung lining film. Nature 215 (5109), 1498-1499 PubMed.


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