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Early Hum Dev. 1989 Jun;19(3):167-81.

Heart rate variation in normal infants and victims of the sudden infant death syndrome.

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Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles.


Infants who later succumb to the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) exhibit lower overall heart rate variability during waking than do other infants. This study attempts to determine which type or types of heart rate variation are reduced in SIDS victims. Long-term recordings of heart rate and respiration were obtained from normal infants and infants who later died of SIDS, and heart rate variation in three frequency bands was examined: respiratory sinus arrhythmia (periods 0.9-3.0 s), 'mid-frequency' (periods 4.0-7.5 s) and 'low-frequency' (periods 12-30 s). All three types of heart rate variation were diminished in SIDS victims under 1 month of age during waking and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep compared with controls. Partitioning heart rate effects showed that in waking, and to a lesser extent in REM sleep, the reduction in all types of heart rate variation exceeded that which would have been predicted based on higher heart rates in SIDS victims. No heart rate-independent reduction in any type of heart rate variation was observed in quiet sleep. This state-dependent reduction in three types of heart rate variation could indicate an abnormality of autonomic control mechanisms during waking and REM sleep in infants who later succumb to SIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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