January 23, 2020

Helping Babies Breathe Easier

Doctoral candidate Eliram Nof (left) and Prof. Josué Sznitman with their model of the upper respiratory tract of a premature baby.

More than 10 percent of babies worldwide are born prematurely, and a common complication of premature birth is respiratory distress. The respiratory system only reaches full function in the late stages of prenatal development, and premature infants may lack a unique soapy substance (surfactant), which prevents the collapse of the lungs and facilitates breathing. 

Fortunately, modern medicine is able to cope with this problem by providing an exterior surfactant that is delivered in conjunction with a ventilation machine.  However, in its current form, the use of a respirator is not without problems. One of the possible side effects in premature infants using a ventilation machine is damage to the lung tissue. Fortunately, a new technology developed by Technion researchers will protect the respiratory tract of premature infants needing assisted ventilation.