Breathing Tests

All the children had a simple breathing test in school. This involved blowing into a machine called a spirometer which was connected to a laptop computer. The test was good fun and computer games were involved! We gave the children 2 puffs of a harmless salbutamol (ventolin) inhaler to see if this increased how hard they could blow.

Children living near London had the opportunity to attend the Children’s Lung Function Laboratory at Great Ormond Street Hospital for some specialized breathing tests. These tests gave a much better idea about how children’s lungs work. The last study suggested that many children born prematurely still had significant problems in how well their lungs worked. This Detailed Breathing Study looked at this in much more detail.

Some of the tests involved blowing into a special tube whilst wearing a nose clip, similar to the ones used by some people for swimming. This test is called spirometry. They also used a machine that looks a bit like a glass phone box that helped to work out how big their lungs are.

One test used a special harmless air mixture to show how well the lungs get rid of waste gases (e.g. carbon dioxide). They also used an exercise bike to help determine fitness levels. This involved cycling on the bike for 10 minutes whilst breathing into a special tube.

The children also had their height and weight rechecked. A saliva sample was taken to assess exposure to passive smoking.

There was also a test that indicated whether someone was prone to asthma, and finally a skin test to see if they were allergic to some common pollens and types of dust.

None of the tests were painful and no child had to do any test they did not want to do. The tests involved two trips to the laboratory at Great Ormond Street Hospital. All travel costs were paid for and lunch was provided, as well as a small financial incentive for attending.