Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

Pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) occurs when fluid fills the lungs due to an infection or injury. This prevents air from filling the lungs effectively and deprives the body of oxygen.

What is Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)?

ARDS most often affects children who are already hospitalized, causing their lungs to become inflamed and fill with fluid. This makes them stiff and unable to properly expand when breathing. Oxygen levels will drop in the bloodstream and compromise the health of other organs. Patients will need a ventilator to breath for them and allow the lungs to heal.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)?

Symptoms of pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) include:

  • Abdominal pain (in pancreatitis)
  • Cough (often with white or pink frothy sputum)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

What are the causes of Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)?

A direct or indirect source can cause this life-threatening condition.


  • Breathing harmful fumes or smoke
  • Chest trauma
  • Inhaling vomit (aspiration)
  • Near drowning
  • Pneumonia


  • Blood transfusions
  • Injury that causes low blood pressure
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Severe and widespread bacterial infection (sepsis)