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Dev Psychobiol. 2016 Sep;58(6):724-33. doi: 10.1002/dev.21412. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

Associations between respiratory arrhythmia and fundamental frequency of spontaneous crying in preterm and term infants at term-equivalent age.

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Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Pediatrics, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


This study investigated whether lower vagal function in preterm infants is associated with increased fundamental frequency (F0 ; frequency of vocal fold vibration) of their spontaneous cries. We assessed respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) during quiet sleep as a measure of vagal function, and its relationship with the F0 of spontaneous cries in healthy preterm and term infants at term-equivalent age. The results showed that preterm infants have significantly lower RSA, and higher overall F0 than term infants. Moreover, lower RSA was associated with higher overall F0 in preterm infants, whereas higher RSA was positively associated with mean and maximum F0 , and a larger F0 range in term infants. These results suggest that individual differences in vagal function may be associated with the F0 of spontaneous cries via modulation of vocal fold tension in infants at an early developmental stage. © 2016 The Authors. Developmental Psychobiology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 58:724-733, 2016.


autonomic nervous system; cardiac vagal index; crying; fundamental frequency (F0); heart rate variability; low-birth-weight infants; preterm infants; respiratory sinus arrhythmia; vagal tone

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