Oxygen saturation increases during childhood and decreases during adulthood among high altitude native Tibetians residing at 3,800-4,200m

High Alt Med Biol. 2000 Spring;1(1):25-32. doi: 10.1089/152702900320658.


This report describes age differences in oxygen saturation throughout the life cycle in a sample of high altitude native Tibetans residing in villages at 3,800-4,200 m altitude in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China. Oxygen saturation of 3,812 Tibetans was measured by pulse oximetry and a subsample of 1,582 healthy, nonpregnant, nonsmokers from 1 week to 80 years of age was selected for analyses. Infants under 1 year of age had 5-6% lower oxygen saturation than the peak of 89.8% attained at 11 years of age. There was a steady increase in mean oxygen saturation-for-age during the first decade of life, but not during the second decade. Adult males exhibited a slight decrease starting in the 20-29 year age range. Adult females maintained the peak oxygen saturation through the 40-49 year age range, exhibiting a decrease in oxygen saturation beginning in the 50-59 year age range and as a result had higher oxygen saturation than males during the female reproductive span. Thus, developmental factors during infancy and childhood, but not adolescence, enhanced oxygen transfer in this high altitude native resident Tibetan sample. The age of onset of aging processes detrimental to oxygen transfer differed for females and males.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Altitude*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Sex Factors
  • Tibet


  • Oxygen