Breathing resistance and ultrafine particle deposition in nasal-laryngeal airways of a newborn, an infant, a child, and an adult

Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 Dec;40(12):2579-95. doi: 10.1007/s10439-012-0603-7. Epub 2012 Jun 3.


As a human grows from birth to adulthood, both airway anatomy and breathing conditions vary, altering the deposition rate and pattern of inhaled aerosols. However, deposition studies have typically focused on adult subjects, results of which may not be readily extrapolated to children. This study numerically evaluated the age-related effects on the airflow and aerosol dynamics in image-based nose-throat models of a 10-day-old newborn, a 7-month-old infant, a 5-year-old child, and a 53-year-old adult. Differences in airway physiology, breathing resistance, and aerosol filtering efficiency among the four models were quantified and compared. A high-fidelity fluid-particle transport model was employed to simulate the multi-regime airflows and particle transport within the nasal-laryngeal airways. Ultrafine particles were evaluated under breathing conditions ranging from sedentary to heavy activities. Results of this study indicate that the nasal-laryngeal airways at different ages, albeit differ significantly in morphology and dimension, do not significantly affect the total deposition fractions or maximum local deposition enhancement for ultrafine aerosols. Further, the deposition partitioning in the sub-regions of interest is different among the four models. Results of this study corroborate the use of the in vivo-based diffusion parameter (D(0.5)Q(-0.28)) over the replica-based parameter in correlating nasal-laryngeal depositions of ultrafine aerosols. Improved correlations have been developed for the four age groups by implementing this in vivo-based diffusion parameter as well as the Cunningham correction factor.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Larynx / anatomy & histology
  • Larynx / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nose / anatomy & histology
  • Nose / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*


  • Aerosols