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J Int Med Res. 2009 Nov-Dec;37(6):1780-8.

Effect of maternal stress on fetal heart rate assessed by vibroacoustic stimulation.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tokyo Women's Medical University, Medical Centre East, Tokyo, Japan.


This study was designed to determine whether maternal stress levels, state and trait anxiety levels, and stress hormones affect fetal heart rate (FHR) patterns after vibroacoustic stimulation (VAS) at 30 weeks of gestation. A total of 24 healthy pregnant women with a single fetus pregnancy were enrolled. Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone in maternal plasma and cortisol, and chromogranin A in saliva were measured. The FHR patterns after VAS were divided into three types: type I, a long period of acceleration or one acceleration lasting > 1 min or at least two accelerations lasting > 15 s; type II, a biphasic response with acceleration followed by deceleration; and type III, no response or prolonged deceleration. In the high trait anxiety group, CRH levels were significantly higher than in the low trait anxiety group, and FHR patterns after VAS showed mostly a type II response pattern. These findings suggest that stress in pregnant women with high trait anxiety may influence FHR patterns after VAS.

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