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Age related reference ranges for respiration rate and heart rate from 4 to 16 years
  1. L A Wallis1,
  2. M Healy2,
  3. M B Undy3,
  4. I Maconochie4
  1. 1Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Statistics, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
  4. 4Department of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, St Mary’s Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr L A Wallis
    PO Box 901, Wellington, 7654, South Africa;


Background: Clinical vital signs in children (temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure) are an integral part of clinical assessment of degree of illness or normality. Despite this, only blood pressure and temperature have a reliable evidence base. The accepted ranges of heart and respiration rate vary widely.

Methods: This study examined 1109 children aged 4–16 years in their own schools. Age, sex, height, weight, and resting respiration rate and heart rate were recorded. The data were used to produce age related reference ranges for everyday clinical use.

Results: Reference intervals are presented for the range of heart rate and respiration rate of healthy resting children aged 4–16 years. The recorded values are at variance with standard quoted ranges in currently available texts.

  • HR, heart rate
  • RR, respiration rate
  • respiratory rate
  • heart rate
  • reference range

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