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neonatal respiratory distress syndrome  a condition of the newborn marked by dyspnea with cyanosis, preceded by symptoms such as dilatation of the nostrils, grunting on exhalation, and retraction of the suprasternal notch or costal margins. Most affected babies either were born prematurely, have diabetic mothers, or were delivered by cesarean section; sometimes there is no known cause. This is the major cause of death in the newborn, and survivors have a high risk for chronic neurologic complications. Prematurity with interrupted development of the surfactant system is the most common cause.

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