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Assessment of spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity in neonates
  1. Emmanuel Drouina,
  2. Véronique Gournaya,
  3. Jean Calamelb,
  4. Alain Mouzardc,
  5. Jean-Christophe Rozéa
  1. aDepartment of Neonatology, Hôpital Universitaire de Nantes, France, bDepartment of Physiology, cDepartment of Paediatrics, Centre de Référence mort subite du nourrisson
  1. Professor Jean-Christophe Rozé, Department of Neonatology, Hôpital Mère Enfant, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nantes 10 quai Moncousu, 44035 Nantes, France.


AIMS To determine whether it is possible to assess baroreflex sensitivity in neonates by studying only spontaneous variations in systolic blood pressure and heart rate.

METHODS ECG and non-invasive blood pressure signals were continuously studied in 14 preterm neonates (term 29-32 weeks) and five term neonates (term 40-41 weeks). Non-invasive blood pressure measures were obtained using a Finapres placed around the child’s wrist. Both signals (ECG and blood pressure), sampled at 400 Hz, were digitised by an A/D converter and stored in a binary mode on magnetic disk. An inhouse software QRS detection algorithm was used to define R peaks of the QRS complexes with an accuracy greater than 2 ms. Four 4 minute periods were recorded in each infant. The slope of the linear regression of RR intervals versus systolic blood pressure was calculated in each period and the mean value of the four slopes was then considered as the index of baroreflex sensitivity (in ms/mm Hg) in each neonate.

RESULTS Spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity was lower in preterm neonates than in term neonates (mean(SD): 4.07 (2.19) ms/mm Hg vs 10.23 (2.92) ms/mm Hg).

CONCLUSION Baroreflex sensitivity can be assessed in term and preterm neonates by studying spontaneous variations in systolic blood pressure alone. This method could be useful for studying the ontogeny of baroreflex sensitivity and might therefore provide information about the maturation of the autonomic nervous system.

  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • baroreflex sensitivity
  • autonomic nervous system.

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