Non-invasive ventilatory support can reduce the adverse effects associated with intubation and mechanical ventilation, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, sepsis, and trauma to the upper airways. In the last 4 decades, nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been used to wean preterm infants off mechanical ventilation and, more recently, as a primary mode of respiratory support for preterm infants with respiratory insufficiency. Moreover, new methods of respiratory support have been developed, and the devices used to provide non-invasive ventilation (NIV) have improved technically. Use of NIV is increasing, and a variety of equipment is available in different clinical settings. There is evidence that NIV improves gas exchange and reduces extubation failure after mechanical ventilation in infants. However, more research is needed to identify the most suitable devices for particular conditions; the NIV settings that should be used; and whether to employ synchronized or non-synchronized NIV. Furthermore, the optimal treatment strategy and the best time for initiation of NIV remain to be identified. This article provides an overview of the use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in newborn infants, and the clinical applications of NIV.
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