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High Alt Med Biol. 2013 Mar;14(1):31-6. doi: 10.1089/ham.2012.1034.

Lung function among 9- to 10-year-old Tibetan and Han Chinese schoolchildren living at different altitudes in Tibet.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


Tibetans have lived at high altitude longer than any other high-altitude population. Still little is known about their lung function and especially among children. This study compared lung function values of forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and forced expiratory flow at 50% of FVC (FEF50) in children living at various altitudes in Tibet and with different ancestries. A cross-sectional study of lung function was performed among 9-10-year-old native Tibetan and Han Chinese children living at 3700 meters above sea level, and among native Tibetan children living at 4300 meters above sea level. The adjusted FVC and FEV1 were significantly higher in Tibetan children living at 4300 m above sea level as compared to Tibetans living at 3700 m. Tibetans living at 3700 m had higher FVC and FEV1 than Han Chinese living at the same altitude. All Tibetan children had on average higher FEF50 than Han Chinese. Tibetan children living at an altitude of 4300 m had relatively higher lung function than those living at 3700 m, and there were differences in lung function between Tibetans and Han Chinese who live at the same altitude. It seems likely that genetic factors involved in long-term adaptation to high altitude and cultural attributes could have contributed to the study findings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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