The production of surfactant is a key step in fetal lung development. Surfactant decreases alveolar surface tension, thereby preventing alveolar collapse and allowing efficient gas exchange. The lack of adequate amounts of lung surfactant results in respiratory distress syndrome. Tests that assess surfactant concentrations in amniotic fluid are good predictors of infants that will not develop respiratory distress syndrome. The most frequently used test to assess fetal lung maturity (TDx FLM II) will not be available after December 2011. Therefore, we review the currently available tests for fetal lung maturity including lecithin:sphingomyelin ratio, phosphatidyl glycerol, surfactant:albumin ratio and lamellar body counts. Herein, we discuss their clinical utility and consider a suitable replacement for the future.
- TDx FLM II
- fetal lung maturity testing
- lamellar body counts
- respiratory distress syndrome