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Table 9 Differences in respiratory physiology between children and adults

From: Management of acute respiratory diseases in the pediatric population: the role of oral corticosteroids

Cause Physiological or anatomical basis
Metabolism ↑ O2 consumption ↑
Risk of apnea ↓ Immaturity of control breathing
Airway resistance ↑
 Upper airway resistance ↑ Nose breathing
Large tongue
Airway size ↓
Collapsibility ↑
 Pharyngeal muscle tone ↓
 Compliance of upper airway structure ↑
 Lower airway resistance ↑ Airway size ↓
Collapsibility ↑
 Airway wall compliance ↑
 Elastic recoil ↓
 Lung volume ↓ Numbers of alveoli ↓
Lack of collateral ventilation
 Efficiency of respiratory muscles ↓ Efficiency of diaphragm ↓
 Rib cage compliance ↑
 Horizontal insertion at the rib cage
Efficiency of intercostal muscles ↓
 Horizontal ribs
 Endurance of respiratory muscles ↓ Respiratory rate ↑
Fatigue-resistant type I muscle fibres ↓
  1. From: HammerJ, Eber E (Eds) Paediatric pulmonary function testing. Prog Respir Res. Basel, Karger, Vol 33, 2005. [99]