Neonatal autonomic function after pregnancy complications and early cardiovascular development.
Aye CYL., Lewandowski AJ., Oster J., Upton R., Davis E., Kenworthy Y., Boardman H., Yu GZ., Siepmann T., Adwani S., McCormick K., Sverrisdottir YB., Leeson P.
BACKGROUND: Heart rate variability (HRV) has emerged as a predictor of later cardiac risk. This study tested whether pregnancy complications that may have long-term offspring cardiac sequelae are associated with differences in HRV at birth, and whether these HRV differences identify abnormal cardiovascular development in the postnatal period. METHODS: Ninety-eight sleeping neonates had 5-min electrocardiogram recordings at birth. Standard time and frequency domain parameters were calculated and related to cardiovascular measures at birth and 3 months of age. RESULTS: Increasing prematurity, but not maternal hypertension or growth restriction, was associated with decreased HRV at birth, as demonstrated by a lower root mean square of the difference between adjacent NN intervals (rMSSD) and low (LF) and high-frequency power (HF), with decreasing gestational age (p < 0.001, p = 0.009 and p = 0.007, respectively). We also demonstrated a relative imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic tone, compared to the term infants. However, differences in autonomic function did not predict cardiovascular measures at either time point. CONCLUSIONS: Altered cardiac autonomic function at birth relates to prematurity rather than other pregnancy complications and does not predict cardiovascular developmental patterns during the first 3 months post birth. Long-term studies will be needed to understand the relevance to cardiovascular risk.