Forced expiratory flows and volumes in infants. Normative data and lung growth

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Feb;161(2 Pt 1):353-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.161.2.9903026.


Forced expiratory flows (FEF) can be measured in infants from lung volumes initiated near total lung capacity. In order to establish reference values and to evaluate lung growth, we obtained measurements in 155 healthy subjects between 3 and 149 wk of age. Forced vital capacity (FVC) was highly correlated with body length; however, after accounting for length, age was also significant. When subjects were divided at the median age (40 wk) younger compared with older subjects had a significantly larger slope for length (3.7 versus 2.8; p = 0.002). The flow parameters (FEF(50), FEF(75), FEF(85), and FEF(25-75)) were highly correlated with length, and those infants whose mothers smoked had lower flows. For FEF(75), male subjects had lower flows than female subjects. The relationship between FEF and volume was assessed using FEV(0.5)/FVC, which decreased with increasing length. Smaller subjects emptied their lung volume proportionately faster. We conclude that our study provides reference values for this age group and demonstrates that smoke-exposed infants and male subjects have decreased FEF. In addition, our findings indicate that lung volume increases most rapidly during the first year of life and that airways are large relative to lung volume very early in life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung / growth & development*
  • Lung Volume Measurements*
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow Rate / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Vital Capacity / physiology


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution