Pulmonary function in children after open water SCUBA dives

Int J Sports Med. 2010 Oct;31(10):724-30. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1262803. Epub 2010 Jul 30.


An increasing number of children and adolescents is diving with Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). SCUBA diving is associated with health risks such as pulmonary barotrauma, especially in children and in individuals with airflow limitation. As no data has been published on the effects of open-water diving on pulmonary function in children, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of SCUBA dives on airflow in children. 16 healthy children aged 10-13 years underwent spirometry and a cycle-exercise challenge while breathing cold air. They subsequently performed dives to 1-m and 8-m depth in random order. Pulmonary function was measured before and after the exercise challenge and the dives. There were statistically significant decreases in FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC, MEF25 and MEF50 after the cold-air exercise challenge and the dives. Changes in lung function following the exercise challenge did not predict the responses to SCUBA diving. In 3 children the post-dive decrements in FEV1 exceeded 10%. These children had a lower body weight and BMI percentile. SCUBA diving in healthy children may be associated with relevant airflow limitation. A low body mass might contribute to diving-associated bronchoconstriction. In the majority of subjects, no clinically relevant airway obstruction could be observed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Diving / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity