Effect of baseline oxygenation on the ventilatory response to inhaled 100% oxygen in preterm infants

A. Z. Haider, V. Rehan, S. Al-Saedi, R. Alvaro, K. Kwiatkowski, D. Cates, H. Rigatto

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14 Scopus citations


We tested the hypothesis that the immediate (< 1 min) ventilatory response to 100% O2 in preterm infants, a test of peripheral chemoreceptor activity characterized by a decrease in ventilation due to apnea, is more pronounced at lower baseline O2 concentrations. We studied 12 healthy preterm infants [birth weight 1,425 ± 103 (SE) g; study weight 1,670 ± 93 g; gestational age 30 ± 1 wk; postnatal age 27 ± 7 days] during quiet sleep. The infants inhaled 15, 21, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45% O2 for 5 min in a randomized manner (control period), followed by 100% O2 for 2 min, and then the same initial O2 concentration again for 2 min (recovery period). A nosepiece and a flow- through system were used to measure ventilation. The immediate decrease in ventilation with 100% O2 was 46% on 15% O2, 24% on 21% O2, 11% on 25% O2, 8% on 30% O2, 12% on 35% O2, and 8% on 40% O2; there was no decrease on 45% O2 (P < 0.01). The corresponding mean duration of apnea was 29 s during 15% O2, 18 s during 21% O2, 8 s during 25% O2, 9 s during 30 and 35% O2, and 3 s during 40% O2; only one infant developed a 5-s apnea during 45% O2 (P < 0.001). The findings suggest that 1) the ventilatory decrease in response to 100% O2 is dependent on the baseline oxygenation, being more pronounced the lower the baseline O2 concentration; and 2) this ventilatory decrease is entirely related to more prolonged apneas observed with lower baseline O2 concentrations. We speculate that the peripheral chemoreceptors, being so active in the small preterm infant with relatively low arterial PO2, are highly susceptible to changes in PO2, and this makes them prone to irregular or periodic breathing, especially during sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2101-2105
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • control of breathing
  • hyperoxia
  • hypoxia
  • peripheral chemoreceptor activity
  • sleep state
  • ventilation


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