The physics of the premature lung: Why mechanical ventilation can harm preterm lungs

In Germany, about ten per cent of all children are born before the 37th week of pregnancy and are thus considered premature. Many of these premature babies require help with breathing due to their underdeveloped lungs. However, clinical practice shows that mechanical ventilation can cause irreversible damage to the lungs, although the exact causes are not yet known. In an interdisciplinary study, physicists and physicians have now shown that increased pressure on the lung tissue, as caused by mechanical ventilation, poses the risk of overstretching the tissue, even with small amounts of air, and disrupting cell function during gas exchange.

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