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Princess Margaret Hospital

Respiratory Function Research

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Headed by: Associate Professor Stephen Stick and Professor Peter Sly.

Who we are:
This research combines the clinical and scientific expertise of the School of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. Members of this team are internationally recognised for their significant contributions to medical research.

What we do:
We specialise in lung function testing of infants and preschool children. Conventional lung function tests are difficult to perform in this age group. The tests that we use have been designed so that no active co-operation is required. Many of these techniques were developed in our laboratory.

Research overview:
One of our main research areas is wheeze and asthma. Wheezing during infancy and early childhood is common, however many children will grow out of it and not all children who wheeze have asthma. We are interested in studying children who wheeze, and children who don’t, and finding out if their lung function is different, and how it changes with time. We also have specific research programs that are looking at lung function in cystic fibrosis and in neonatal chronic lung disease.

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Current Research Projects

We are currently seeking families to help with the following research projects:

Lung function in infancy
Lung function will be measured when your baby is asleep. We induce sleep with a mild sedative (oral chloral hydrate syrup). This medication is very safe and has been used for more than 15 years in our laboratory and is used throughout the world for lung function testing in babies. In this study we perform a series of tests to measure gas mixing, lung volumes, the resistive properties of the airways and the elastance of the lung parenchyma. This test is suitable for infants up to the age of 2 years, with or without a history of wheeze.
Baby with mask

Lung function in preschool children
Measurements of respiratory function are important in diagnosing and monitoring asthma and other respiratory diseases in children. However, conventional lung function tests require full cooperation of the child and can be difficult for children younger than 7 years of age. In this study, we measure lung function in children aged 2 to 6 years of age using the forced oscillation technique (FOT) – an easy method for measuring lung function that can be done in your child during normal breathing.

Measurement of airway reactivity
Adenosine Monophosphate (AMP) Mannitol

An important test for diagnosing asthma is to measure the “twitchiness” or reactivity of the airways. Children with asthma generally have more reactive airways than non-asthmatic children. Your child will be asked to breathe increasing concentrations of either AMP or mannitol and lung function is measured at each step. In these two studies we wish to investigate the use of the forced oscillation technique to measure airway reactivity in children between 3 and 6 years of age.

Child testing lung function

Lung function in older children
By the age of 5 years, most children can perform adult lung function tests. We are currently seeking healthy children 5 years and above for validation of our reference data.

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More Information

If you would like further information on any of these studies, please contact Dr Graham Hall of the Department of Respiratory Medicine on +61 8 9340 8830 or email graham.hall@health.wa.gov.au.

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