The total work of breathing is the sum of the work expended to overcome the resistance to airflow through the airways (Raw) and the work expended to overcome the resistance of the chest wall (Rcw). If minute ventilation is constant, Raw increases with increasing respiratory rate and Rcw increases with decreasing respiratory rate. As infants have a more rigid chest wall, Rcw is increased. Thus , optimal work of breathing occurs at a respiratory rate of 37 in the neonate. While some sources claim that the work of breathing in a neonate is three times that of an adult, others have claimed that the weight/metabolic-corrected work of breathing in a neonate is the same as an adult.
- C D Cook, J M Sutherland, S Segal, R B Cherry, J Mead, M B Mcilroy, C A Smith Studies of respiratory physiology in the newborn infant. III. Measurements of mechanics of respiration. J. Clin. Invest.: 1957, 36(3);440-8
- G Polgar Opposing forces to breathing in newborn infants. Biol Neonat: 1967, 11(1);1-22