Medical Puzzle

We have a puzzle that no one seems to be able to solve.

We think it involves an epigenetic change due to exposure to anoxia and hyperoxia at birth.

My friend Paula has normal lung function [.5L per breath].We found out at a basic first aid class that her breathing rate at rest when awake is 3 breaths per minute.   
This means that her minute ventilation is .5L times 3 breaths = 1.5L
Most people exchange from 5-8L of air per minute; she exchanges only 1.5L.

Her doctors cannot explain it.   Textbooks say she should be dead or in severe respiratory failure.  [she is fine].
Paula is fit, healthy [they gave her lots of tests] and works as a college teacher and is normal as can be.
Her breathing looks normal….but it is not.

She was born not breathing, needed to be suctioned [meconium] and resuscitated and then had a transfusion before she would respond.  Then she was fine.  She developed normally it seems [except for her too slow respiratory rate.

I found out that JS Haldane , a famous scientist,  found that the range of resting breathing in healthy adults to be very wide;  from as low as 3 breaths per minute to as high as 30 breaths per minute.

I think he assumed that tidal volume would make up the rest so that everyone would end up exchanging 6-8 breaths per minute.  This must have been before spirometry was invented.
People have forgotten JS Haldane’s observations regarding the wide range of respiratory rates in healthy adults.

Doctors today look only at lung function; they never count respirations – they assume respiratory rate at rest to be average [12 to 20 breaths per minute].

No one quite understands how Paul is so well or is even alive.   Her doctors  are pretty freaked out.  …..We think they should be curious.   …..she is fine….

Do you think her mitochondria might be different somehow?
Do you have any hypothesis [s] to suggest?

We are stumped.


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