The effect of an increased end-expiratory lung volume on inspiratory and expiratory duration was examined in 13 term infants at 4, 30, and 70 h of age. This was accomplished by the administration of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) of 0, 3, and 6 cmH2O by use of a face mask connected to a pneumotachometer, and by measurement of the timing of the respiratory cycle over 1-min intervals. At increasing functional residual capacity (FRC) there was a progressive increase in expiratory time (TE) and fall in respiratory rate, with a variable effect on inspiratory time (TI). As CPAP increased from 0 to 6 cmH2O, the TI/TE ratio fell from 0.75 to 0.62 (P less than 0.01), 0.90 to 0.66 (P less than 0.001), and 0.87 to 0.64 (P less than 0.001) at 4, 30, and 70 h, respectively. We conclude that alterations in end-expiratory lung volume significantly alter expiratory duration in the newborn infant at term. This may be analogous to the vagally mediated tonic control of expiratory time with changing FRC recently described in anesthetized animals.
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