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Pulmonary Function Testing in Children

The ATS and European Respiratory Society (ERS) published a new statement on pulmonary function testing in preschool children. The document, which appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, addresses the clinical, technical and epidemiological implications of pulmonary function testing in children aged 2 to 6.

Preschoolers present a number of special challenges, said Stephanie Davis, M.D., co-chair of the 33-member ATS/ERS working group that produced the guidelines. The children are generally too old to sedate, as is done with infants, and less cooperative than an older child. However, investigators have demonstrated that preschool lung function testing is now feasible.

The working group hopes its recommendationswhich focus on spirometry, tidal breathing measurements, the interrupter technique, forced oscillation, gas washout techniques and bronchial responsiveness testswill serve as a resource for healthcare professionals and facilitate good laboratory practices by providing guidelines on how to perform the various techniques and how to interpret the measurements.

Evaluating lung function in this age group is important, not only for clinical reasons, but also due to the considerable growth and development of the respiratory system that occurs with associated changes in lung mechanics, said Dr. Davis.

The working group envisions that these guidelines will help facilitate multi-center collaboration using these pulmonary function testing techniques, said Dr. Davis.


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