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The Neonatal Respiratory Pump: A Developmental Challenge with Physiologic Limitations

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Newborn lungs are particularly susceptible to pathophysiology. Respiratory distress commonly brings infants to the intensive care nursery. Premature birth compromises the infant's ability to respond to early lung dysfunction because of the reduced functional reserve available at younger gestational ages. The respiratory pump consists of respiratory musculature and the chest wall. The respiratory pump is the physiologic "machine" that responds to lung pathology. From gestation onward, components of the pump undergo developmental changes that influence its compensatory ability in the neonate. Careful observation of the synchrony of the chest wall and abdomen during spontaneous breathing efforts assists the caretaker in detecting respiratory compromise and impending respiratory failure. Noninvasive monitoring of respiratory patterns is a valuable tool for the neonatal caregiver, who must understand the developmental changes in the respiratory pump and be able to identify an infant's ineffective responses to lung pathophysiology.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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