Ventilatory response to carbon dioxide in young athletes: a family study

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1976 Apr;113(4):497-502. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1976.113.4.497.


Ventilatory response to carbon dioxide (deltaVE/deltaPCO2) was measured in 23 teenage swimmers chosen by their coach for their potential for future athletic success. Siblings and parents of these swimmers were also studied. We found a strong relation between siblings' de;taVE/DELTAPCO2, whether or not they were swimmers (r=0.71, P less than 0.01). A weaker relationship was found between mother's and children's deltaVE/DELTAPCO2 (r==0.39, P less than 0.01). No association was found between swimming training and deltaVE/deltaPCO2. One swimmer 12 years of age had an extremely low deltaVE/PCO2 (0.42 liter per min per mm Hg) She was the only swimmer among these 23 potential champions to achieve international success in endurance events in the 2 years after the study. We concluded that family factors are important determinants of a subject's deltaVE/PCO2 and suggest that measurement of this aspect of chemical drive to breathing in young athletes may help identify those most likely to succeed in endurance events.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Child
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • Respiration / drug effects*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports Medicine*
  • Swimming*


  • Carbon Dioxide