Passive respiratory mechanics in healthy infants. Effects of growth, gender, and smoking

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Sep;154(3 Pt 1):670-80. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.154.3.8810604.


This investigation characterizes the normal growth, variability, and effects of gender and smoking on passive respiratory mechanics in healthy infants. Passive respiratory mechanics were assessed at 193 test sessions on 127 infants (55 boys, 72 girls) between 2 wk and 18 mo of age using the single-occlusion passive flow-volume technique. Respiratory compliance (Crs) increased significantly with increasing infant length, whereas respiratory resistance (Rrs) declined. No significant gender differences were apparent for Crs, although there was a tendency for this measure to be both lower at birth and increase at a slower rate in girls than in boys. Rrs was significantly higher at birth in infant boys than in infant girls, but the rate of the normal decline in Rrs during the first 18 mo also occurred at a significantly greater rate in boys. The passive respiratory time constant (Trs) overall showed little change over this age range, but it was both lower near birth and increased at a significantly greater rate versus infant length in girls than in boys. Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with lower levels of Rrs at birth, as well as with significantly slower growth of Crs and natural decline of Rrs in the first 18 mo of life. These data suggest that infant girls may have more mature respiratory mechanics at birth, but that postnatal growth/maturation may be faster in boys.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Height
  • Child Development*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Respiratory Mechanics* / drug effects
  • Respiratory Mechanics* / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution