Circadian rhythmicity is fundamental to human physiology, and is present even during fetal life in normal pregnancies. The impact of maternal endocrine disease on the fetal circadian rhythm is not well understood. The present study aimed to determine the fetal circadian rhythm in pregnancies complicated by pregestational diabetes mellitus (PGDM), compare it with a low-risk reference population, and identify the effects of maternal glycemic control and morning cortisol concentrations. Long-term fetal electrocardiogram recordings were made in 40 women with PGDM at 28 and 36 weeks of gestation. Two recordings were made in 18 of the women (45.0%) and one recording was made in 22 (55.0%). The mean fetal heart rate (fHR) and the fHR variation (root mean square of squared differences) were extracted in 1-min epochs, and circadian rhythmicity was detected by cosinor analysis. The study cohort was divided based on HbA1c levels and morning cortisol concentrations. Statistically, significant circadian rhythms in the fHR and the fHR variation were found in 45 (100%) and 44 (95.7%) of the 45 acceptable PGDM recordings, respectively. The rhythms were similar to those of the reference population. However, there was no statistically significant population-mean rhythm in the fHR among PGDM pregnancies at 36 weeks, indicating an increased interindividual variation. The group with higher HbA1c levels (>6.0%) had no significant population-mean fHR rhythm at 28 or 36 weeks, and no significant fHR-variation rhythm at 36 weeks. Similarly, the group with a lower morning cortisol concentration (≤8.8 µg/dl) had no significant population-mean fHR-variation rhythm at 28 and 36 weeks. These findings indicate that individual fetal rhythmicity is present in pregnancies complicated by PGDM. However, suboptimal maternal glycemic control and a lower maternal morning cortisol concentration are associated with a less-well-synchronized circadian system of the fetus.
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- Fetal circadian rhythm
- fetal heart rate
- pregestational diabetes