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2020-05-30 Research Article

Dysfunctional breathing in children


Objective: Dysfunctional breathing (DB) refers to abnormal patterns of breathing. No gold standard exists for diagnosis. In clinical practice we regularly see children with functional breathing problems. We collected data from this patient group to gain more insight into the characteristics of children with dysfunctional breathing.

Methods: We composed a retrospective, cross-sectional study. The population consisted of children referred to a physiotherapist by a pediatrician due to suspected dysfunctional breathing. Data from 2013-2015 were collected from patient files, selected according to patterns and onset of symptoms, concomitant asthma, Nijmegen questionnaire (NQ) score, maximum exercise capacity and breathing pattern.

Results: A total of 201 patients were included in the study, 66% of whom were female. The mean age was 13.9 years; 26% of the children were overweight. The most frequently reported symptoms were breathlessness, chest pain/tightness and dizziness.  Fifty-two percent had a NQ score ≥ 23, mainly female. Twenty-eight percent of the children scored < p5 for their age on maximum exercise capacity; this proportion was substantially higher among males. Of the total population, 78% scored < p50 for their age. Subgroups with a higher body mass index (BMI) showed lower maximum exercise capacity. Children presenting with pulmonary symptoms were primarily misdiagnosed with asthma.

Conclusion: Dysfunctional breathing is a common cause of respiratory complaints. Most children with dysfunctional breathing have a high BMI and are in poor physical condition, which suggests a clinically relevant comorbidity and possible options for therapy. Children are often falsely diagnosed with asthma; better recognition will decrease unnecessary medication use.

Abstract Read Full Article HTML DOI: 10.29328/journal.jprr.1001013 Cite this Article