Control of Breathing in Newborns
Prematurity profoundly affects breathing, making it highly irregular, with frequent pauses or apneas. This respiratory instability is secondary to the immature development of the respiratory network as well as the underdevelopment of the lungs and the resultant lung injury that occurs in this population. The increased activity of the peripheral chemoreceptors and the closeness of eupneic and threshold PCO2 confer a great vulnerability to respiratory stability in these infants. Maintaining adequate ventilation and oxygenation during this type of breathing pattern represents a unique clinical challenge.
In this chapter, we review some of the concepts and the progress made in the area of control of breathing in the newborn. We also highlight major developments and critically analyze the scientific foundations of our knowledge in this area.
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