The application of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) throughout the respiratory cycle constitutes a major breakthrough in the treatment of severe respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) of infancy. All studies to date have demonstrated improved oxygenation and lessened requirements for exposure to high environmental oxygen concentration following institution of therapy; improved survival has been suggested.

Various methods of application have been proposed. Originally, Gregory et al.1 advocated the use of an endotracheal tube or sealed head chamber. Chernick and Vidyasagar,2 and more recently Fanaroff et al.3 have suggested the use of continuous negative external pressure (CNP) applied to the body below the neck.

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