JBiSE  Vol.3 No.10 , October 2010
Foetal heart rate variability frequency characteristics with respect to uterine contractions
Monitoring foetal health is important to appropriately plan pregnancy management and delivery. Cardiotocography (CTG) is one of the most employed diagnostic techniques. Because CTG interpretation still lacks of complete reliability, new methods of interpretation and parameters are necessary to further support physicians’ decisions. To this aim, indexes related to variability of foetal heart rate (FHRV) are particularly studied. Frequency components of FHRV and their modifications can be analysed by applying a time-frequency approach, which allows for a distinct understanding of the spectral components related to foetal reactions to internal and external stimuli and their change over time. Being uterine contractions (UC) strong stimuli for the foetus and his autonomic nervous system (ANS), it is worth exploring the FHRV response to UC. This study analysed modifications of FHRV frequency characteristics with respect to 108 UC (relative to 35 healthy foetuses). Results showed a statistically significant (t-test, p < 0.01) power increase of the FHRV in both LF and HF bands in correspondence of the contractions. Moreover, we observed a shift to higher values of the maximum frequency contained in the signal corresponding to the power increase. Such modifications of the FHRV power spectrum can be a sign of ANS reaction and therefore represent additional, objective information about foetal reactivity and health during labour.

Cite this paper
nullCesarelli, M. , Romano, M. , Ruffo, M. , Bifulco, P. and Pasquariello, G. (2010) Foetal heart rate variability frequency characteristics with respect to uterine contractions. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 3, 1014-1021. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2010.310132.
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