Breath in adults, children and infants

Breathing is a crucial part of an individual's health status and is one of the major vital signs, along with pulse rate and blood pressure. Normal respiratory rate varies with age, ranging from 40-60 cycles per minute for newborns, 30-60 cycles per minute for infants, 20-30 cycles per minute for children and 12-20 cycles per minute for adults.

It is important to carefully monitor the respiratory rate, as an abnormality may be a sign of respiratory failure. A respiratory rate that is too high or too low may indicate a problem with the lungs or the respiratory system in general.

It should be noted that the tidal volume needed to sustain life is only 500 ml in adults. This means that every time we breathe in, we inhale and exhale about 500 ml of air. This volume is vital for the supply of oxygen to our body and the removal of carbon dioxide.

Breathing is critical to human health, and it is essential to carefully monitor breathing rate for signs of respiratory failure. The tidal volume required for life is 500 ml in adults, emphasizing the importance of breathing to our survival.


Definition and Meaning

Breathing is a physiological process that allows the body to take in oxygen from the surrounding air and release carbon dioxide into the environment. The breathing process differs slightly between adults, children and infants:

  • In the adult: breathing is through the nose or mouth and air flows through the airways to the lungs, where oxygen is released into the blood and carbon dioxide is released on exhale.
  • In children: breathing is similar to that of adults, but the lung capacity is smaller, which can make breathing faster and more shallow. The child's airway may also be narrower and more susceptible to obstructions.
  • In infants: breathing is faster than in adults and children because of the small size of their lungs and the greater oxygen demand of their bodies. Infants usually breathe through their nose and have noisier breathing than adults and children because of their smaller airways.

It is important to monitor the breathing of adults, children and infants for signs of breathing difficulty and airway obstruction. If breathing problems occur, it is crucial to provide immediate respiratory assistance and contact emergency medical help.

Breathing in adults, children and infants

Breathing is a vital process for the survival of all living beings. It allows the supply of oxygen to the cells and the elimination of carbon dioxide. The normal respiratory rate varies with age, and an abnormal respiratory rate can be a sign of respiratory failure.


Normal respiratory rate

In newborns: 40 to 60 cycles per minute

Infants: 30-60 cycles per minute

Children: 20 to 30 cycles per minute

Adults and adolescents: 12 to 20 cycles per minute


Lung capacity

The total capacity of the lungs in humans is about 6 liters of air. However, some of this capacity is lost in the airways and is called "dead space". The body uses about 4.5 liters of air to perform its vital functions.


Respiratory volumes

The total capacity of the lungs in humans is about 6 liters of air. Out of these 6 liters, more than one and a half liters of air is lost for pulmonary exchanges, this is called the dead space. This is the air that is found in the different respiratory ducts (mouth, trachea, bronchi and bronchioles). The organism therefore uses about 4.5 liters of air to accomplish its vital capacities. 


We can define different other respiratory volumes

The tidal volume: this is the quantity of air that is renewed during a normal respiratory cycle (at rest). Of the 4.5 liters that the lungs can accept, the tidal volume necessary for life is only 0.5 l (500 ml)

Reserve expiratory volume: This is the amount of air we cannot expel from our lungs by forcing expiration. It can represent a volume of 1.2 liters. Let's not forget that this value does not take into account the dead space. The addition of these two volumes, i.e. the dead space and the reserve expiratory volume, represents what the respiratory system contains before an inspiration (the residual capacity is therefore equivalent to: 1.5 + 1.2 = 2.7 liters)

Inspiratory reserve volume: This is the amount of air that must be inhaled for the lungs to contain their maximum amount of air. This volume can represent up to 2.8 additional liters of air.

It is important to note that these values vary depending on various factors such as age, general health and respiratory health. It is therefore important to monitor your breathing regularly and to consult a doctor if you have any problems.