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Psychophysiology. 2004 Jul;41(4):510-20.

The psychophysiology of the maternal-fetal relationship.

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Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The enigmatic quality of the maternal-fetal relationship has been extolled throughout history with little empirical support. We apply time series analysis to data for 137 maternal-fetal pairs collected at 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 38 weeks gestation. Maternal heart rate and skin conductance data were digitized in tandem with fetal heart rate and motor activity. No temporal relations between fetal heart rate and either maternal variable were found, although averaged maternal and fetal heart rates were correlated from 32 weeks. Consistent temporal associations between fetal movement and maternal heart rate and skin conductance were detected. Fetal movement stimulated rises in each parameter, peaking at 2 and 3 s, respectively. Associations did not change over gestation, were unaffected by a maternal stressor, and showed within-pair stability. The bidirectional nature of the maternal-fetal relationship is considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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