OBJECTIVE--A study was performed to determine reference ranges for whole body plethysmographic gas volumes and single breath gas transfer in healthy prepubertal and pubertal schoolchildren. METHODS--The study was performed in 772 white London schoolchildren (455 male) who were clinically examined, assessed auxologically and, in 63% of cases, pubertally staged. Regression equations for the calculation of standard deviation scores were derived. RESULTS--Male lung function variables showed a discontinuous pattern of increase with standing height. Linear increases until puberty were followed by a sudden pubertal rise and a further increase with height which was more marked than before puberty. Correction for varying thoracic dimensions eliminated these changes. In females a smoother curvilinear relationship was observed with no correction possible for thoracic size. CONCLUSIONS--Male puberty leads to profound changes in pulmonary function mostly related to thoracic size, an effect not observed in females.
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