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SurfON is trying to find out how best to treat babies born two to six weeks early with breathing problems.

Information for Parents

Parent Information Leaflet

SurfON Parent Information Leaflet. Thumbnail preview of the file.

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This study is about babies born two to six weeks before their due date. Babies born even a few weeks early may not be fully developed and may have breathing problems, which can be severe. Some need to go onto a breathing machine (ventilator) soon after birth; others do not, but still need some help with breathing. They often go onto 'non-invasive' breathing support, which means that machines give oxygen through soft, short tubes in the nose or small masks over the nose.

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. We can give a dose of surfactant into the lungs, down a small tube in the windpipe and we do this in many babies born more than 10 weeks early.

At the moment, there have been no research studies into the timing of giving surfactant in babies born closer to term with breathing problems, so we have no guidance on how best to treat these babies. Whilst some doctors prefer to use surfactant early, others do not and so clinical practice varies widely across hospitals in the UK. For this reason, we would like to know if it is better to give surfactant early, when a baby first starts to have problems, or wait and see if they will improve without it.

Alternatively, you can contact the SurfON Study Team at the University of Oxford on 01865 289 437/738/751 or email

If you would like to contact an independent organisation, we suggest that you contact Bliss, a special care baby charity. Website: Tel: 020 7378 1122; Email:

Updated: Monday, 07 March 2022 11:35 (v17)

For more information about SurfON, please view the contact details page