Maternal exercise, season and sex modify the daily fetal heart rate rhythm

J. Sletten, G. Cornelissen, J. Assmus, T. Kiserud, S. Albrechtsen, J. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim: The knowledge on biological rhythms is rapidly expanding. We aimed to define the longitudinal development of the daily (24-hour) fetal heart rate rhythm in an unrestricted, out-of-hospital setting and to examine the effects of maternal physical activity, season and fetal sex. Methods: We recruited 48 women with low-risk singleton pregnancies. Using a portable monitor for continuous fetal electrocardiography, fetal heart rate recordings were obtained around gestational weeks 24, 28, 32 and 36. Daily rhythms in fetal heart rate and fetal heart rate variation were detected by cosinor analysis; developmental trends were calculated by population-mean cosinor and multilevel analysis. Results: For the fetal heart rate and fetal heart rate variation, a significant daily rhythm was present in 122/123 (99.2%) and 116/121 (95.9%) of the individual recordings respectively. The rhythms were best described by combining cosine waves with periods of 24 and 8 hours. With increasing gestational age, the magnitude of the fetal heart rate rhythm increased, and the peak of the fetal heart rate variation rhythm shifted from a mean of 14:25 (24 weeks) to 20:52 (36 weeks). With advancing gestation, the rhythm-adjusted mean value of the fetal heart rate decreased linearly in females (P <.001) and nonlinearly in males (quadratic function, P =.001). At 32 and 36 weeks, interindividual rhythm diversity was found in male fetuses during higher maternal physical activity and during the summer season. Conclusion: The dynamic development of the daily fetal heart rate rhythm during the second half of pregnancy is modified by fetal sex, maternal physical activity and season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13093
JournalActa Physiologica
Volume224
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • cardiotocography
  • chronobiology
  • daily rhythm
  • fetal development
  • fetal heart rate

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    Sletten, J., Cornelissen, G., Assmus, J., Kiserud, T., Albrechtsen, S., & Kessler, J. (2018). Maternal exercise, season and sex modify the daily fetal heart rate rhythm. Acta Physiologica, 224(2), [e13093]. https://doi.org/10.1111/apha.13093