How lungs develop after birth
Your baby’s lungs are ready to breathe as soon as they are born but they continue to develop and grow throughout their life.
Childhood is a really important time for healthy lung development and there are lots of ways you can keep your child’s lungs healthy. The most important things you can do to prevent lung damage are:
- to avoid smoking during pregnancy and
- make sure your child does not breathe in smoke once they’re born
When your child is in the womb, their lungs are filled with fluid. As soon as your child is born they need to start using their lungs to breathe and get their own oxygen from the air. This is a big change.
Hormones help the lungs to remove the liquid that was in your baby’s lungs.
As your baby takes their first breath, the blood vessels around the lungs get wider and your baby’s blood flows to the lungs to collect oxygen.
Adult lungs have 300 million air sacs. At birth your baby has 50 - 70 million air sacs but they are still not be fully developed.
In the first 6 months of your child’s life, they develop a lot of air sacs very quickly.
Your child’s lung volume - the amount of air their lungs can hold - increases a lot during the first two years of their life.
By the time your child is 3, their lungs look like a mini version of adult lungs.
After 3 years
Your child’s lungs get bigger as they grow. All their airways and air sacs increase in size and volume.
Some studies suggest that your child carries on slowly developing new air sacs throughout their childhood. But more research is needed to say for certain.