Objective: To analyze the incidence, risk factors, major morbidity, mortality and resource employment in very low birth weight infants (< 1500 g) with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).
Methods: Descriptive study using prospectively obtained on-line information from a data base of 20 units belonging to the South American Neocosur Network. A total of 5991 VLBW infants were registered during years 2002-2007.
Results: The mean gestacional age was 29.1 weeks (95% CI 29.06-29.21) and the mean of birth weight was 1100.5 g (95% CI 1093.79-1107.37). The global incidence of RDS was 74% (95% CI 73-75). Antenatal steroids were administered to 73% of this population. The main risk factor was lower gestational age (p< 0.001); where as prenatal steroids (OR: 0.59; 95% CI 0.49-0.72), female gender (OR: 0.77; 95% CI 0.67-0.89) and premature rupture of membranes (OR: 0.81; 95% CI 0.68-0.96) were protective factors. Antenatal steroids was also associated with a decrease in mortality in those infants that presented with RDS (OR: 0.40; 95% CI 0.34-0.47). Use of resources was higher in the group with RDS, with a greater use of surfactant (74.3% vs. 7.3%, p< 0.001), mechanical ventilation (82.1% vs. 23.8%, p< 0.001), and more days of oxygen (median of 8 vs. 1 day, p< 0.001) and hospitalization (median of 61 vs. 45 days, p< 0.001). RDS was associated to an increase risk in the incidence of ROP, PDA, late onset sepsis, severe IVH and oxygen requirement at 36 weeks of corrected gestational age.
Conclusions: RDS had a high incidence in very low birth weight infants, despite the frequent use of antenatal steroids. VLBW Infants with RDS had a higher mortality and an increase risk of relevant morbidity. RDS also increased use of resources.