The lung function response to three doses of salbutamol 0.075 mg/kg given at 10 minute intervals by gastric tube was studied in 31 infants aged 2-22 months with bronchopulmonary disease (eight after the respiratory distress syndrome, 15 with wheezy bronchitis, and eight with cystic fibrosis). Lung function was measured by whole body plethysmography. Seven of 31 infants had normal lung function and 10 of the remaining 24 had an increase in thoracic gas volume (TGV), 10 an increase in airway resistance (Raw), and four an increase in both the TGV and Raw. The response of TGV and Raw to salbutamol was analysed by circular statistics, enabling analysis of coupled, directional data. Thirty minutes after administration of the first dose of salbutamol there was a reduction in TGV or Raw in 21 of the 24 infants, 11 showing a decrease in TGV ("volume responder") and 10 a fall in Raw ("flow responder"). These results indicate that in most infants with bronchopulmonary disease an improvement in lung function can be documented after systemic administration of beta agonists if both TGV and Raw are measured.
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