CPD Articles

Management of neonates with respiratory distress syndrome in resource-limited settings

Radhika Singh, Leann P. Munian, Nqobile A. Memela
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 4| a5938 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5938 | © 2024 Radhika Singh, Leann Prabashnee Munian, Nqobile Angel Memela | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 February 2024 | Published: 22 May 2024

About the author(s)

Radhika Singh, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Leann P. Munian, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Nqobile A. Memela, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Technology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


In South Africa, prematurity stands as one of the foremost causes of neonatal mortality. A significant proportion of these deaths occur because of respiratory distress syndrome of prematurity. The implementation of non-invasive respiratory support, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), has demonstrated both safety and efficacy in reducing mortality rates and decreasing the need for mechanical ventilation. Given the absence of blood gas analysers and limited radiological services in many district hospitals, the severity of respiratory distress is often assessed through observation of the infant’s work of breathing and the utilisation of bedside scoring systems. Based on the work of breathing, non-invasive therapy can be commenced timeously. While evidence supporting the use of high-flow nasal cannula as a primary treatment for respiratory distress syndrome remains limited, it may be considered as an alternative, provided that CPAP machines are available. The purpose of this article is to advocate the use of non-invasive therapy in low resource-limited settings and describe the indications, contraindications, complications, and application of CPAP therapy. This would benefit healthcare workers, especially in low-care settings and district hospitals.


CPAP; RDS; prematurity; surfactant; low- and middle-income countries; non-invasive respiratory support


Total abstract views: 696
Total article views: 435

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.