A person's breathing rate is the number of breaths taken per minute. Over a lifetime, a person's respiration rate goes from rapid as a newborn to slow and steady as she ages. Knowing what is a normal respiration rate is a good touch stone for personal health. If respiration is too high or too low, something is off kilter in the body. A person's breath rate reveals much about the health of his heart, his blood pressure and his overall well-being.
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Infant [birth through 1]
An infant's normal breathing rate is 30 to 60 breaths per minute. For the first six months of life, a baby's breathing is extremely rapid as he adapts to the environment and goes through massive growth spurts. By six months, the breath rate usually slows to 24 to 30 breaths per minute.
Toddler [ages 1 to 3]
In children age one to three, the respiration rate holds at about 24 to 40 beats per minute. This is the resting breath rate. A child can breath much faster while playing, expressing emotion, or suffering from a fever.
Preschooler [ages 3 to 6]
By the time a child is in preschool, his respiration has slowed again to 22 to 34 beats per minute. Little lungs work hard, removing carbon dioxide and pushing pure oxygen through the body to provide the energy a child a this age needs.
Elementary and Middle School [ages 6 to 12]
A school-age child has a normal respiration rate of 18 to 30 breaths per minute. Illness can cause that rate to rise an addition 10 breaths per minute and still be considered normal. Medications, especially those for asthma and allergies, can increase breath rates. Knowing a child's normal respiration rate can alert a parent to possible health issues, as respiration deviations is an early cue that something is amiss in the body.
Teenager [ages 12 to 16]
Teenagers have an average respiration of 12 to 16 breaths per minute. The teenager has the lowest resting respiratory rate of any group. This may be due to the fact that many people are at their physical peak during their teenage years. A strong, healthy heart is reflected in a respiratory rate of 12 to 16 breaths throughout one's lifetime.
Adult [17 and upward]
The average adult has a respiration rate of 12 to 20 breaths per minute. There is a connection between our normal resting respiration rate, the health of our heart and our blood pressure. Taking the time to control and steady your breath can have a positive affect on your general well-being. Respiration rates under 12 and over 25 in a resting person is considered abnormal and would lead to a series of tests. These might include testing for thyroid issues, as metabolism can affect breathing; measuring blood pH for acidity, as acidity indicates a possible problem at the brainstem that can lead to an increase or decrease in respiration rates; and testing blood for the presence of drugs, which can slow or increase breath rates.
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