Prolonged QT interval in neonates: benign, transient, or prolonged risk of sudden death

Am Heart J. 1992 Jul;124(1):194-7. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(92)90940-w.


To determine the factors relating to prognosis, the records of 15 neonates with persistent prolongation of the QT interval on the electrocardiogram after the fourth day of life were reviewed. Patients were admitted for symptoms (syncope, cardiac failure, or seizures), abnormal auscultation with an irregular heart rate or bradycardia, or because of a family history of a long QT syndrome. All infants had a long QTc, ranging from 0.46 to more than 0.70 second. Eight patients who had a QTc over 0.60 second developed severe ventricular arrhythmias (torsades de pointes, ventricular tachycardia) or second-degree AV block. Twelve of 15 were treated with beta-blocking agents, combined with ventricular pacing in five cases. Four infants died in the first month of life; they all had a very long QT interval and had experienced ventricular arrhythmias and AV block. Six children are still being treated with beta-blocking agents for the long QT syndrome and are doing well. In five infants, electrocardiographic abnormalities were transient and the QT interval returned to normal within 1 year. Therefore (1) prolongation of the QT interval in neonates may be transient or may represent an early form of the long QT syndrome and (2) the length of the QT interval may provide data on prognosis: those with a QTc less than 0.50 second returned to normal; those with a QTc greater than 0.60 second were associated with severe arrhythmias and four of eight infants died.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Long QT Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Long QT Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Long QT Syndrome / therapy
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists