Short-term Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Neonates

Ekta Khandelwal, Sumeet Tripathi, Onkar Khandwal


Background and Aim: Heart rate variability (HRV) is a noninvasive tool used for the assessment of cardiac autonomic tone. Normal baseline fluctuation in heart rate is considered to be a valid indicator of fetal well-being. This study aims to assess the utility and feasibility of establishing short-term HRV measurement in healthy term neonates in clinical practice and to record and analyze the normal HRV data of neonates.

Materials and Methods: A total of 18 healthy term neonates with gestational age > 37 weeks and Apgar score ≥ 8 at 5 minutes were included. Short-term HRV was assessed by 5 minutes continuous recording of the electrocardiogram (ECG) signals using a lead II ECG.

Results: Mean birth weight and mean age of neonates were 2.79 ± 0.35 kg and 3 postnatal days (71.5 h), respectively. The standard deviation of successive differences was 18.91 (10.78–36.43) ms; root mean square of the sum of squares of differences was 18.89 (10.82–36.4) ms, and percentage of NN50 was 1.59 (0.39–16.82). The low frequency was 69.60 (56.04–72.97) NU; high frequency was 29.68 (26.76–41.58) NU; LF/HF ratio was 2.33 (1.33–2.72); and SD1 and SD2 were 13.37 (7.62–25.76) ms and 40.94 (25.50–46.03) ms, respectively.

Conclusions: Normative data of HRV in healthy term neonates will help establish the criteria to assess cardiac autonomic tone. HRV, by far, remains a very promising noninvasive tool for the assessment of cardiac autonomic tone in health and disease conditions of neonates.

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