Density dependence of forced expiratory flows in healthy infants and toddlers

Stephanie Davis, Marcus Jones, Jeff Kisling, Robert Castile, Robert S. Tepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


In older children and adults, density dependence (DD) of forced expiratory flow is present over the majority of the full flow-volume curve. In healthy subjects, DD occurs because the pressure drop from peripheral to central airways is primarily dependent on turbulence and convective acceleration rather than laminar resistance; however, an increase in peripheral resistance reduces DD. We measured DD of forced expiratory flow in 22 healthy infants to evaluate whether infants have low DD. Full forced expiratory maneuvers were obtained while the subjects breathed room air and then a mixture of 80% helium-20% oxygen. Flows at 50 and 75% of expired forced vital capacity (FVC) were measured, and the ratio of helium-oxygen to air flow was calculated (DD at 50 and 75% FVC). The mean (range) of DD at 50 and 75% FVC was 1.37 (1.22-1.54) and 1.23 (1.02-1.65), respectively, values similar to those reported in older children and adults. There were no significant relationships between DD and age. Our results suggest that infants, compared with older children and adults, have similar DD, a finding that suggests that infants do not have a greater ratio of peripheral-to- central airway resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1796-1801
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 1999


  • Airway resistance
  • Convective acceleration
  • Helium-oxygen
  • Lung growth
  • Turbulent and laminar flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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