Leicester Mercury

Study looks at treatment for babies born early


A UK-WIDE study to find out how best to treat babies born two to six weeks early with breathing problems has begun at Leicester’s hospitals.

SurfON – Surfactant Or Not – will see one group of children given surfactant soon after birth and another not given the treatment.

The lungs of healthy full term babies produce surfactant, a substance that makes it easier for them to breathe. Babies born early often do not make enough surfactant, or their natural surfactant does not work properly.

Professor Elaine Boyle, a consultant neonatolog­ist at Leicester’s hospitals, said: “There have been no research studies into when surfactant would be best given to babies born closer to term with breathing problems.

“This means healthcare profession­als have no guidance on how best to treat these babies.

“While some doctors prefer to use surfactant early, others do not and so clinical practice varies widely across hospitals in the UK.

“With the SurfON study, we aim to find out if it is better to give surfactant early.”

The first baby recruited, Lexi

Grace Sketchley, was born on September 3 at 37 weeks. She experience­d problems with her breathing soon after delivery.

Dad Shane, from Humberston­e, Leicester, said: “I was asked if we would take part.

“As a parent the last thing you want is to see your child suffering so we knew if it could help Lexi, then yes, we’d go for it.”

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