The efficacy of surfactant replacement therapy in the growth-restricted preterm infant: What is the evidence?

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Background: Surfactant replacement therapy (SRT) is an integral part of management of preterm surfactant deficiency respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Its role in the management of RDS has been extensively studied. However, its efficacy in the management of lung disease in preterm infants born with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) has not been systematically studied. Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of exogenous SRT in the management of preterm IUGR lung disease. Methods: A systematic search of all available randomized clinical trials (RCT) of SRT in preterm IUGR infants was done according to the standard Cochrane collaboration search strategy. Neonatal respiratory outcomes were compared between the preterm IUGR and appropriately grown for gestational age (AGA) preterm infant populations in eligible studies. Results: No study was identified which evaluated the efficacy or responsiveness of exogenous SRT in preterm IUGR infants as compared to preterm AGA-infants. The only study identified through the search strategy used small for gestational age (SGA; defined as less than tenth centile for birth weight) as a proxy for IUGR. The RCT evaluated the efficacy or responsiveness of SRT in preterm SGA group as compared to AGA-infants. The rate of intubation, severity of RDS, rate of surfactant administration, pulmonary air leaks, and days on the ventilator did not differ between both groups. However, the requirement for prolonged nasal continuous positive airway pressure (p < 0.001), supplemental oxygen therapy (p < 0.01), and the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia at 28 days and 36 weeks (both p < 0.01) was greater in SGA-infants. Discussion: There is currently insufficient data available to evaluate the efficacy of SRT in preterm IUGR lung disease. A variety of research strategies will be needed to enhance our understanding of the role and rationale for use of SRT in preterm IUGR lung disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118
Number of pages5
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • BPD
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • FGR
  • IUGR
  • Lungs
  • Premature
  • RDS

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