Transition from dynamically maintained to relaxed end-expiratory volume in human infants

A. A. Colin, M. E.B. Wohl, J. Mead, F. A. Ratjen, G. Glass, A. R. Stark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Newborn infants, in contrast to adults, dynamically maintain end-expiratory lung volume (EEV) above relaxation volume. The purpose of this study was to determine at what age children develop a breathing strategy that is relaxed, i.e., determined by the mechanical characteristics of the lung and chest wall. Forty studies were performed in 27 healthy infants and children aged 1 mo to 8 yr during natural sleep. Volume changes were recorded with the use of respiratory inductance plethysmography (RIP). The volume signal was differentiated to yield flow. Flow-volume representations were generated for a random sample of the recorded breaths to determine the predominant breathing strategy utilized, i.e., relaxed, interrupted, or indeterminate. The respiratory pattern was predominantly interrupted below 6 mo of age and predominantly relaxed over 1 yr of age. Mixed patterns were observed in children 6-12 mo of age. The number of breaths that could not be classified (indeterminate) decreased with age. Respiratory frequency measured from the sample of breaths decreased with age and was accompanied by an increase in expiratory time. We conclude that a relaxed EEV develops at the end of the first year of life and may be related to changes in the mechanical properties of the chest wall associated with growth as well as changes in respiratory timing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2107-2111
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989


  • chest wall
  • Flow-volume
  • lung growth
  • respiratory inductance plethysmography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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