Surfactant and respiratory disease syndrome

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  • Inner surfaces of alveoli are kept moist by secretions of a watery fluid from cells in the alveolar wall.
  • Surface tension could easily cause wet cells to stick together - difficult for alveoli to expand when breathing in.
    To prevent this, the fluid contains surfactant which reduces surface tension and is detergent- like.
  • Baby in the uterus doesn't use lungs for gaseous exchange - no need for surfactant to be secreted and so doesn't happen until fairly late in pregnancy.
  • If baby is born prematurely…


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