Mammalian, including human, neonates are considered to be obligate nose breathers. When constrained to breathe through their mouth in response to obstructed or closed nasal passages, the effects are pervasive and profound, and sometimes last into adulthood. The present paper briefly surveys neonates’ and infants’ responses to this atypical mobilisation of the mouth for breathing and focuses on comparisons between human newborns and infants and the neonatal rat model. We present the effects of forced oral breathing on neonatal rats induced by experimental nasal obstruction. We assessed the multilevel consequences on physiological, structural, and behavioural variables, both during and after the obstruction episode. The effects of the compensatory mobilisation of oral resources for breathing are discussed in the light of the adaptive development of oromotor functions.
Marie Trabalon and Benoist Schaal
This article originally appeared in International Journal of Pediatrics