The role of afferent feedback from arterial chemoreceptors in the maintenance of rhythmic respiration during early development was studied by section of carotid sinus and aortic nerves of rat pups at different ages from 3 days to 3 weeks postnatally. This deafferentation produced a severe, episodic respiratory disturbance, limited to pups younger than 21 days and associated with mortality rates near 50% during the 2 weeks following surgery. These findings may have implications for the role of peripheral chemoreceptors in the periodic apneas of premature infants and in the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. © 1984.
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