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Diving Seals and Meditating YogisStrategic Metabolic Retreats$
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Robert Elsner

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226246710

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226247045.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Resistances to asphyxia

Resistances to asphyxia

(p.139) 9 Resistances to asphyxia
Diving Seals and Meditating Yogis

Robert Elsner

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines asphyxial tolerance in mammals. The seal's characteristic adaptations for long breath-holding provide a model of mammalian asphyxial endurance obviously greater than that of its terrestrial relatives. Tolerance of most mammals to the threat of arrested breathing is especially noticeable in the mammalian fetus and newborn when they are threatened with disrupted gas exchange. The near-term mammalian fetus must endure two challenges to its respiration that would be traumatic to the adult animal: intrauterine hypoxia and birth asphyxia. Blood oxygen tension of the fetal circulation is lower than the maternal value, situated as it is at the low end of the respiratory flow from atmosphere to fetus. Accordingly, arterial blood oxygen delivered to the fetus declines to values equivalent to those of high-altitude exposure. The resulting fetal reaction is one of adaptation to hypoxia as well as resistance to asphyxia.

Keywords:   mammalian asphyxial endurance, mammalian fetus, intrauterine hypoxia, birth asphyxia

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