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Relations between the development of patterns of sleeping heart rate and body temperature in infants
  1. S A Petersen,
  2. C Pratt,
  3. M P Wailoo
  1. Department of Child Health and Division of Medical Education, University of Leicester, PO Box 138, Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK
  1. Professor Petersensxp{at}


Overnight patterns of rectal temperature and heart rate were recorded from 119 normal infants at weekly intervals from 7 to about 16 weeks of age. All data were collected in the infants' own homes. As previously reported, different infants developed an adult-like night time rectal temperature pattern abruptly at different ages. When heart rate data were collated by age, there was an apparently gradual fall in sleeping heart rate from 7 to about 14 weeks of age. This was, however, an artefact of data collation. Individual infants showed abrupt falls in heart rate at the time that the adult-like body temperature pattern appeared, but this occurred at different ages in different babies, so when data were collated cross sectionally, an apparently gradual fall resulted. The relation between the developmental changes in sleeping heart rate and rectal temperature was different in boys and girls, with girls showing a more abrupt and greater change in heart rate at the time of development of the adult-like body temperature pattern. Infants whose parents smoked had significantly lower heart rates once the adult-like body temperature pattern had appeared.

  • heart rate
  • sleeping
  • body temperature

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