Systematic review of long QT syndrome identified during fetal life

Heart Rhythm. 2023 Apr;20(4):596-606. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2022.12.026. Epub 2022 Dec 22.


Fetal long QT syndrome (LQTS) may present with sinus bradycardia, functional 2:1 atrioventricular block (AVB), and ventricular arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia [VT]/torsades de pointes [TdP]) and lead to fetal or postnatal death. We performed a systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis of 83 studies reporting outcomes of 265 fetuses for which suspected LQTS was confirmed postnatally and determined risk of adverse perinatal and postnatal outcomes using logistic and stepwise logistic regression. A longer fetal QTc was more predictive of death than any other antenatal factor (receiver operating characteristic [ROC] area under the curve [AUC] 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.66-1.00). Risk of death was significantly increased with fetal QTc >600 ms. Neither fetal heart rate nor heart rate z-score predicted death (ROC AUC 0.51; 95% CI 0.31-0.71; and ROC AUC 0.59; 95% CI 0.37-0.80, respectively). The combination of antenatal VT/TdP or functional 2:1 AVB and lack of family history of LQTS was also highly predictive of death (ROC AUC 0.82; 95% CI 0.76-0.88). Our data provide clinical screening tools to enable prediction and intervention for fetuses with LQTS at risk of death.

Keywords: Fetal; Fetal arrhythmia; Long QT syndrome; Outcomes; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrioventricular Block* / diagnosis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Heart Rate, Fetal
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Long QT Syndrome* / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Torsades de Pointes* / diagnosis


  • DNA-Binding Proteins