Neonatal heart rate variability and its relation to respiration

J Theor Biol. 1985 Apr 21;113(4):759-80. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5193(85)80192-2.


The heart rate and respiration signals from nine healthy full term neonates were studied using autoregressive spectral analysis and cross-correlation techniques. The heart rate spectra could be divided into three regions of activity: a very low frequency (VLF) region from 0-0.04 Hz; a low frequency (LF) band from 0.04-0.20 Hz; and a high frequency (HF) region above 0.20 Hz. The newborns exhibited very little respiratory sinus arrhythmia in their heart rate variability in contrast to the situation for adults and older infants. However, variations in heart rate correlated strongly with changes in the breath amplitude, leading to what may be termed a breath amplitude sinus arrhythmia. The neonatal heart rate behaviour under stable conditions of oscillation could be simulated with a nonlinear control model provided the delay time in the baroreceptor loop of the model was taken to be approximately 2 seconds longer than in adults. This is consistent with the immature neurological status of neonates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computers
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Respiration*