Determinants of outcome in newborns with respiratory distress in Osogbo, Nigeria

Olusegun J. Adebami, Victor I. Joel-Medewase, Efeturi Agelebe, Temitope O. Ayeni, Olamide V. Kayode, Ololade A. Odeyemi, Gabriel A. Oyedeji


Background: Respiratory distress is one of the commonest presentations necessitating hospital admission in newborn unit. Regardless of the cause, if not recognized and managed quickly, respiratory distress can escalate to apnoea, respiratory failure, cardiopulmonary arrest and death.

Methods: A cross-sectional and descriptive study of newborns with respiratory distress admitted into the SCBU of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Nigeria. Respiratory distress was diagnosed by grunting, inspiratory stridor, nasal flaring and tachypnea (more than 60 breaths per minute), retractions in the intercostal, subcostal, or supracostal spaces and cyanosis. At admission, every neonate had a complete physical examination.

Results: Of 625 babies admitted, 384 (61.4%) were males while 241 (38.6%) were females and 164 (26.2%) had respiratory distress. Respiratory distress was commoner among the preterms than term newborns. c2 = 44.7, p = 0.001. Leading causes of respiratory distress among the preterms were hyaline membrane disease, septicaemia, while among the term babies were perinatal asphyxia, transient tachypnoea of newborn and meconium aspiration. Sixty (36.6%) of the 164 babies with respiratory distress died. While 40.2% of the preterms died mainly from causes like hyaline membrane disease and septicaemia, 31.3% of term babies died from causes like perinatal asphyxia and meconium aspiration. Mortality from hyaline membrane disease was 46.9%, while perinatal asphyxia and meconium aspiration accounted for 38.9% and 40.0% respectively.

Conclusions: Respiratory distress is therefore, a very common neonatal problem and it causes death of more than third of those affected. Emphasis should be geared towards reduction of preterm delivery, control of asphyxia and neonatal sepsis in order to reduce neonatal mortality in our environment.


Hyaline membrane disease, Neonatal respiratory distress, Nigeria, Perinatal asphyxia

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