Changes of the cardiovascular system during the perinatal period

Eur J Pediatr. 1987 Nov;146(6):545-9. doi: 10.1007/BF02467350.


After describing the particular features of the fetal circulation, changes in the pattern of blood flow at the time of birth and during early neonatal life are explained. From animal studies it is wellknown that during the first hours and weeks after birth newborns are characterized by an extremely high cardiac output due to high metabolic demands. In order to meet this marked volume loading, already under resting conditions the neonatal heart appears to be operating nearly at its full capacity without reserves in contractility, preload and afterload. Consequently the newborn heart has less ability to cope with additional acute afterload and/or preload stress. Few investigations on cardiac output and myocardial performance in healthy human newborns provide presumptive evidence that the postnatal human heart performs probably as well as the heart of other species. These observations may influence the therapeutic approach in clinical situations with additional alterations in loading conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Fetus / physiology*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*