Developmental changes in response to subatmospheric pressure loading of the upper airway

Carole L. Marcus, Janita Lutz, Audrey Hamer, Philip L. Smith, Alan Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Children snore less than adults and have fewer obstructive apneas, suggesting a less collapsible upper airway. We therefore hypothesized that the compensatory upper airway responses to subatmospheric pressure loading decrease with age because of changes in upper airway structure and ventilatory drive. We measured upper airway upstream pressure-flow relationships during sleep in 20 nonsnoring, nonobese children and adults. Measurements were made by correlating maximal inspiratory airflow with the level of nasal pressure applied via a mask. The slope of the upstream pressure-flow curve (S(PF)) was used to characterize upper airway function. We found that S(PF) was flatter in children than in adults (8 ± 5 vs. 30 ± 18 ml · s-1 · cmH2O-1, P < 0.002) and that S(PF) correlated with age (r = 0.62, P < 0.01) and body mass index (r = 0.63, P < 0.01). The occlusion pressure in 100 ms during sleep was measured in six children and two adults; it correlated inversely with S(PF) (r = -0.80, P < 0.02). We conclude that the upper airway compensatory responses to subatmospheric pressure loading decrease with age. This is associated with increased body mass index, even in nonsnoring, nonobese subjects. Ventilatory drive during sleep plays a role in modulating upper airway responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-633
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Volume87
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 18 1999

Keywords

  • Critical pressure
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Ventilatory control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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