A new method that permits the measurement of adult-type maximal expiratory flow-volume curves and fractional lung volumes in sedated infants was recently described. The purpose of this study was to define the normal range for these new measures of pulmonary function in infants and young children. Measurements of forced expiratory flows and fractional lung volume were made on 35 occasions in 22 children (ages 3-120 weeks) without respiratory disease. Maximal expiratory flow-volume curves were measured by the raised lung volume, thoracoabdominal compression technique. Functional residual capacity (FRC) was measured plethysmographically. Measurements of total lung capacity (TLC), residual volume (RV), FRC, forced vital capacity (FVC), and forced expiratory flows at 25, 50, 75, 85, and between 25% and 75% of expired FVC (FEF(25), FEF(50), FEF(75), FEF(85), and FEF(25-75), respectively) all increased in relation to infant length (P<0.001). RV/TLC, FRC/TLC, and FEF(25-75)/FVC declined in relation to increasing length (P<0.001). The forced expiratory flow and fractional lung volume measurements using this method were similar to previously reported estimates using other methods. These estimates represent a reasonable reference standard for infants and young children with respiratory problems.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.