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Hyaline Membrane Disease Symptoms & Diagnosis


The following symptoms usually start immediately or within a few hours after birth:

  • Difficulty breathing, apnea
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Delayed or weak cry
  • Grunting noise with every breath
  • Flaring of the nostrils
  • Frothing at the lips
  • Blue color around the lips and nailbeds
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Decreased urine output


The doctor will ask about the mother's medical history and pregnancy. The baby will also be evaluated, as outlined here:

Before Birth

Amniotic fluid may be tested for indicators of fetal lung maturity such as:

  • Surfactant
  • Lecithin:sphingomyelin ratio
  • Phosphatidyl glycerol

After Birth

  • Laboratory studies—performed to rule out infection
  • Physical exam—includes checking the baby's breathing and looking for bluish color around the lips and nailbeds
  • Testing for blood gases—to check the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
  • Chest x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, in this case, the chest

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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