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J Perinatol. 2009 May;29 Suppl 2:S23-8. doi: 10.1038/jp.2009.26.

Synthetic surfactants: where are we? Evidence from randomized, controlled clinical trials.

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Department of Neonatology, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, NC 28402-9025, USA.


The benefits of exogenous synthetic or animal-derived surfactants for prevention or treatment of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) are well established. Data from head-to-head trials comparing animal-derived surfactants primarily with the synthetic surfactant colfosceril suggest that the major clinical advantages afforded by the presence of surfactant protein (SP)-B and SP-C in animal-derived preparations relate to faster onset of action, a reduction in the incidence of RDS when used prophylactically, and a lower incidence of air leaks and RDS-related deaths. However, no benefits in terms of overall mortality or BPD have been shown in these head-to-head comparisons. Findings from trials of a new-generation synthetic surfactant containing a peptide that mimics SP-B, as well as their follow-up study suggest that its administration improves short-term clinical outcomes compared with colfosceril and results in survival through 1 year of age, which is at least comparable, if not perhaps superior, to that seen with animal-derived surfactants.

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