Science Questions

If a baby is born in the death zone, will it breathe slower at low altitudes?

Sun, 18th Oct 2009

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Question

Tim, Ipswich asked:

If a baby is born in the death zone, will it breathe slower at low altitudes?

Answer

Kat -   I think you're asking for trouble here really.

Ben -   I think the oxygen demands of giving birth are probably a bit too much to be able to successfully do it when there’s just not enough oxygen up in the death zone, so I'm not sure.  And I think that it means that the baby in the process would get far less oxygen than it needs.  I don’t think this would work very well at all.

Kat -   So maybe, it wouldn’t even make it out alive.

Ben -   It’s quite possible.

Kat -   What a morbid question!  Thank you very much.

It's worth noting that foetal haemoglobin has a higher affinity to oxygen than the 'normal' haemoglobin we use after birth - maybe a baby would be okay in the death zone after all?

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