Genetic risk for respiratory distress in infancy has been recognized with increasing frequency in neonatal intensive care units. Reports of family clusters of affected infants and of ethnic- and gender-based respiratory phenotypes point to the contribution of inheritance. Similarly, different outcomes among gestationally matched infants with comparable exposures to oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or nutritional deficiency also suggest a genetic risk for respiratory distress. Examples of inherited deficiency of surfactant protein B in both humans and genetically engineered murine lineages illustrate the importance of identifying markers of genetic risk. In contrast to developmental, inflammatory, or nutritional causes of respiratory distress that may resolve as infants mature, genetic causes result in both acute and chronic (and potentially irreversible) respiratory failure. The availability of clinically useful genetic markers of risk for respiratory distress in infancy will permit development of rational strategies for treatment of genetic lung disorders of infancy and more accurate counseling of families whose infants are at genetic risk for development of respiratory distress at birth or during early childhood. We review examples of genetic variations known to be associated with or cause respiratory distress in infancy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health