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Pulmonary function and airway responsiveness in young competitive swimmers§

Authors


  • This work was performed at G. Gaslini Institute; Genoa, Italy.

  • The authors have no declared conflict of interests.

  • §

    Michela Silvestri provided data acquisition, analysis and interpretation, contributed to statistical analysis and drafting the article and contributed to revising the article. Emanuele Crimi provided analysis and interpretation, contributed to statistical analysis and drafting the article and contributed to revising the article. Simona Oliva provided data acquisition and contributed to revising the article. Daniela Senarega, provided data acquisition and contributed to revising the article. Maria Angela Tosca contributed to the conception and design of the Ms, provided data acquisition, provided supervision and contributed to revising the article. Giovanni A. Rossi contributed to the conception and design of the Ms, provided supervision and contributed to revising the article critically for important intellectual content. Vito Brusasco contributed to the conception and design of the Ms, provided supervision and contributed to revising the article critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Abstract

Rationale

Strong physical activities are often associated with large lung volumes and relatively reduced flow, which may represent a physiological variant but also an obstructive abnormality. Competitive swimmers have also spirometric values even larger than other athletes, although they are at increased risk for asthma or airway hyperresponsiveness.

Aim

We aimed to investigate whether lung volumes increase with duration of swimming training and are related to an obstructive abnormality associated with airway hyperresponsiveness and asthma-like symptoms.

Methods

Forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), airway responsiveness, and skin prick test were measured in 34 children/adolescents (age: 7–19 yrs old) trained for competitive swimming. Their “lifetime” exposure, i.e., the hours spent in pool was very strongly correlated with their age at the time of study. The effect of swimming activity was therefore estimated from the relationships between lung function data and age.

Results

FVC Z-score was positively correlated with age, indicating that absolute values increased more than expected with normal growth, but FEV1/FVC was negatively correlated with age. Although the majority of subjects had allergic sensitization to aeroallergens and about one half had asthma-like symptoms and/or airway hyperresponsiveness, these conditions did not alter the relationships between lung function and age.

Conclusion

Intense swimming activity may cause a greater than normal lung growth, irrespective of the presence of allergic sensitization or airway hyperresponsiveness. The associated reduction of FEV1/FVC may represent a physiological variant rather than a true obstructive abnormality. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2013; 48:74–80. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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