Journal of applied physiology: respiratory, environmental and exercise physiology vol:56 issue:6 pages:1507-11
The mechanism responsible for the decrease in ventilation during breathing of low fractional concentration of inspired O2 in the newborn infant is poorly understood. The present study tested the hypothesis that endogenous opiates account for this ventilatory decrease. Eleven healthy newborn infants breathed 15% O2, balance N2 for 5 min following an injection of saline and following an injection of naloxone. Neither injection caused a change in minute ventilation (VE) or ventilatory pattern when the infants were breathing room air. However, the decreased ventilation during hypoxia following naloxone was significantly less than that following saline. VE dropped about 14% following saline but only about 4% following naloxone. However, the adult ventilatory response to hypoxemia, i.e., a relatively sustained increase in VE, was not attained. Naloxone had no influence on the occurrence of periodic breathing during hypoxemia. Thus in the healthy full-term newborn infant, endogenous opiates account only for a part of the decreased ventilation during hypoxemia.