Normative data for lung function and exhaled nitric oxide in unsedated healthy infants

Eur Respir J. 2011 May;37(5):1208-16. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00125510. Epub 2010 Nov 25.


Despite association with lung growth and long-term respiratory morbidity, there is a lack of normative lung function data for unsedated infants conforming to latest European Respiratory Society/American Thoracic Society standards. Lung function was measured using an ultrasonic flow meter in 342 unsedated, healthy, term-born infants at a mean ± sd age of 5.1 ± 0.8 weeks during natural sleep according to the latest standards. Tidal breathing flow-volume loops (TBFVL) and exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) measurements were obtained from 100 regular breaths. We aimed for three acceptable measurements for multiple-breath washout and 5-10 acceptable interruption resistance (R(int)) measurements. Acceptable measurements were obtained in ≤ 285 infants with high variability. Mean values were 7.48 mL·kg⁻¹ (95% limits of agreement 4.95-10.0 mL·kg⁻¹) for tidal volume, 14.3 ppb (2.6-26.1 ppb) for eNO, 23.9 mL·kg⁻¹ (16.0-31.8 mL·kg⁻¹) for functional residual capacity, 6.75 (5.63-7.87) for lung clearance index and 3.78 kPa·s·L⁻¹ (1.14-6.42 kPa·s·L⁻¹) for R(int). In males, TBFVL outcomes were associated with anthropometric parameters and in females, with maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal asthma and Caesarean section. This large normative data set in unsedated infants offers reference values for future research and particularly for studies where sedation may put infants at risk. Furthermore, it highlights the impact of maternal and environmental risk factors on neonatal lung function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / standards*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Sleep
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Nitric Oxide