Longitudinal study of fetal body movements: nomograms, intrafetal consistency, and relationship with episodes of heart rate patterns a and B

Pediatr Res. 2002 Oct;52(4):568-75. doi: 10.1203/00006450-200210000-00017.


Our objective was to investigate the longitudinal development of incidence parameters of fetal body movements to define normal reference ranges, to relate them to episodes of fetal heart rate patterns A and B, and to determine the intrafetal consistency for these parameters. Twenty-nine fetuses were studied longitudinally from 24 wk of gestation. Fetal body movements and heart rate were recorded at fortnightly intervals between 24 and 36 wk of gestation and weekly from 36 wk of gestation. Data were analyzed using multilevel analysis. Reference ranges were constructed for the percentage of observation time that movements were present, the number of movement bursts per hour, the mean burst duration, and the median onset-onset interval. The median percentage incidence of fetal body movements decreased from 17% at 24 wk to about 7% near term. The developmental course was the same during active episodes. Body movements also decreased during episodes of relative quiescence, in the course of pregnancy. Intrafetal variance was on average 40-80% of the total range of the four movement parameters. Normal reference ranges were developed for incidence parameters of fetal body movements from 24 wk of gestation onward. The overall decline in the incidence of movements during pregnancy appeared to be a developmental phenomenon and not due to progressively increasing episodes of fetal quiescence. Individual fetuses showed a degree of consistency in the percentage incidence of body movements, but intra- and interfetal variances were generally high, resulting in wide ranges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Movement*
  • Heart Rate, Fetal*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Values