Deglutition and respiration: development, coordination, and practical implications

Semin Speech Lang. 2007 Aug;28(3):166-79. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-984723.


Temporal coordination of deglutition and respiration is essential for survival because both functions share the pharynx as a common pathway. Disruptions in this interface in young infants may result in dysphagia that may lead to aspiration and injury to the developing lung. Likewise, respiratory problems may contribute to the development of swallowing problems. This article focuses on the coordination between swallowing and breathing in infants and children, aspiration during periods of postnatal lung development and airway protective mechanisms. Identification of infants and children at increased risk for oropharyngeal dysphagia and respiratory disease is critical for optimal intervention. Assessment and management considerations are described.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / diagnosis
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / physiopathology
  • Caffeine
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Codeine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ephedrine / analogs & derivatives
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Oropharynx / physiopathology*
  • Pharynx / physiopathology*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Aspiration / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Aspiration / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Aspiration / therapy
  • Time Factors


  • Drug Combinations
  • caffeine, chlorpheniramine, dihydrocodeine, methylephedrine drug combination
  • Caffeine
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Ephedrine
  • Codeine