Development of respiratory chemoreflexes in response to alternations of fractional inspired oxygen in the newborn infant

B A Williams, J Smyth, A W Boon, M A Hanson, P Kumar, C E Blanco

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34 Citations (Scopus)


1. We studied the reflex respiratory response to breath-by-breath alternations of fractional inspired oxygen (FI,O2) in full-term human infants delivered either vaginally or by caesarian section at 3-10 h (n = 6), 12-24 h (n = 12), 24-48 h (n = 18), 3-4 days (n = 21) and 5-8 days (n = 7) postnatally. 2. Respiration was measured by inductance plethysmography (Respitrace) and respiratory variables for each breath were calculated on-line by a microcomputer. Test runs (with alternations of FI,O2 between 0.21 and 0.16) and control runs (with an FI,O2 of 0.21) of 50-100 breaths were carried out during quiet sleep. For each respiratory variable the magnitude of the reflex breath-by-breath alternation was compared between control and test runs. 3. There was little respiratory response during control runs at any postnatal age. However, there was a significantly greater response to test runs in all infants studied and at all ages. 4. There were no significant differences in the degree of alternation during test runs between infants of similar postnatal ages delivered by caesarean section and those born vaginally. 5. In all infants the magnitude of the respiratory response increased with postnatal age, presumably reflecting postnatal increases in the hypoxic sensitivity of the peripheral arterial chemoreceptors. 6. The results indicate that in human infants the alternate breath method can be used to detect developmental changes in peripheral chemoreflexes between birth and postnatal day 8.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1991


  • Cesarean Section
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Plethysmography
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Reflex
  • Respiration
  • Tidal Volume


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