Heart rate (beats / minute) is a measurement that can be made from early in development (when the heart first starts) through embryonic and fetal stages into labor and birth. It is a common clinical diagnostic tool, but data can be variable between countries and institutions.
Early ultrasonographic measurement of embryonic heart rate (EHR) shows a steady increase from Stage 9-10 (75 beats/minute) to Stage 18 (130 beats/minute) and on to Stage 20, following which a gradual decrease in EHR occurs (More? Embryonic Heart Rate). This increase correlates with heart development and a low EHR is used as an indicator of developmental failure and likely abortion. Late stethoscope measurements of fetal heart rate can monitor fetal stress and identifies the characteristic "lub-dub" heart valve sounds.
Non-invasive fetal electrocardiography for the detection of fetal arrhythmias "A total of 500 echocardiography and NI-FECG recordings were collected from pregnant women during a routine medical visit in this multicenter study. All the cases with fetal arrhythmias (n = 12) and a matching number of control (n = 14) were used. Two perinatal cardiologists analyzed the extracted NI-FECG while blinded to the echocardiography. The NI-FECG based diagnosis was compared to the reference fetal echocardiography diagnosis....It is possible to diagnose fetal arrhythmias using the NI-FECG technique. However, this study identifies that improvement in algorithms for reconstructing the P-wave is critical to systematically resolve the mechanisms underlying the arrhythmias. The elaboration of a NI-FECG Holter device will offer new opportunities for fetal diagnosis and remote monitoring of problematic pregnancies because of its low-cost, non-invasiveness, portability and minimal set-up requirements."
Computerized analysis of cardiotocograms and ST signals is associated with significant reductions in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cesarean delivery: an observational study in 38 466 deliveries "Intrapartum cardiotocography (CTG) is widely used in high-resource countries and remains at the centre of fetal monitoring and the decision to intervene, but there is ample evidence of poor reliability in visual interpretation, as well as limited accuracy in identifying fetal hypoxia. Combined monitoring of CTG and ST segment signals was developed to increase specificity, but analysis relies heavily on CTG interpretation and is therefore also affected by the previously referred problems. Computerized analysis was developed to overcome these limitations, aiding in the quantification of parameters that are difficult to evaluate visually, such as variability, integrating the complex guidelines of combined CTG and ST analysis, and using visual and sound alerts to prompt healthcare professionals to re-evaluate features associated with fetal hypoxia."
Quantile Score: A New Reference System for Quantitative Fetal Echocardiography Based on a Large Multicenter Study "Normative ranges of fetal echocardiographic measurements are important for quantitative diagnosis of fetal cardiovascular disease. The current normative ranges were derived from small samples and were based on the hypothesis of a normal distribution of these measurements during fetal cardiovascular growth. The aims of this study were to test the hypothesis of a normal distribution of fetal echocardiographic measurements in a large multicenter cohort and to propose a reference system without the normal distribution hypothesis to improve accuracy of fetal echocardiographic measurements. ...All fetal echocardiographic measurements showed non-normal distributions (P < .001). The normal range was underestimated by ordinary least squares regression compared with quantile regression by 30 ± 11%. The partial normalized areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve within the 20% false-positive rate were 0.62 and 0.50 for the q and Z scores, respectively."
Diurnal rhythm of fetal heart rate in third trimester of pregnancy (Article in Chinese) "To investigate the diurnal rhythms of fetal heart rate in third trimester of pregnancy. Methods: From June 2014 and October 2017, 97 cases of low-risk pregnancy women who received antenatal care and deliveried in Peking University Third Hospital were collected. Totally 130 cases of fetal heart rate and maternal holter monitoring data were analyzed. All cases were singleton pregnancy, cephalic position and had normal perinatal outcome. ...Fetal heart baseline (FHB)、fetal heart baseline variation (FHBV)、fetal heart rate acceleration area and maternal heart rate all presented diurnal rhythms. (1) FHB rose in daytime and decreased at night with the minimum value at 2:00-5:00, and didn't decline further at night with the advancing of gestational age (P=0.548). (2) FHBV was similar to FHB, which rose in daytime and decreased at night, but declined smaller at night with the advancing of gestational age, especially after 37 weeks (P<0.01). (3) Fetal heart rate acceleration area reduced in daytime and enlarged at night, and enlarged more with the advancing of gestational age. (4) The diurnal rhythm of maternal heart rate was consistent with fetal heart rate. FHB lagged behind maternal heart rate for 1-2 hours when declining to the nocturnal nadir but been basically in sync with maternal heart rate when recovered."
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Antenatal cardiotocography for fetal assessment "Cardiotocography (CTG) is a continuous recording of the fetal heart rate obtained via an ultrasound transducer placed on the mother's abdomen. CTG is widely used in pregnancy as a method of assessing fetal well-being, predominantly in pregnancies with increased risk of complications. ...There is no clear evidence that antenatal CTG improves perinatal outcome, but further studies focusing on the use of computerised CTG in specific populations of women with increased risk of complications are warranted."
Normal Ranges of Embryonic Length, Embryonic Heart Rate, Gestational Sac Diameter and Yolk Sac Diameter at 6-10 Weeks "We examined 4,698 singleton pregnancies with ultrasound measurements of CRL, HR, GSD and YSD at 6-10 weeks and CRL at 11-13 weeks resulting in the live birth after 36 weeks of phenotypically normal neonates with birth weight above the 5th centile. Gestational age was derived from CRL at the 11- to 13-week scan using the formula of Robinson and Fleming."
Human Embryology (2nd ed.) Larson Ch7 p151-188 Heart
The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch14: p304-349
Before we Are Born (5th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch12; p241-254
Essentials of Human Embryology Larson Ch7 p97-122 Heart
Human Embryology Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald Ch13-17: p77-111
Embryonic Heart Rate
In a 1996 study normal successful human gestations were defined by EHR criteria at different early embryonic (34-56 days from last menstrual period) developmental stages (at the earliest stages when embryo length is difficult to measure gestational sac diameters are included). <ref>
Stage 9-10 2 mm embryo (gestational sac diameter of 20 mm) EHR at least 75 beats / minute
Stage 11-12 5 mm embryo (gestational sac diameter of 30 mm) EHR at least 100 beats / minute
Stage 16 10 mm embryo EHR at least 120 beats / minute
Stage 18 15 mm embryo EHR at least 130 beats / minute
Fetal Heart Rate
Week 15 (GA week 17) Fetal Heart Rate audio recording of human embryo heart sounds .
Electrocardiogram (ECG) with a normal ECG on the left and an ECG showing T-wave inversion on the right.
The T-waves represents the recovery/repolarisation of the ventricles. Inversion of T-waves relate to repolarisation abnormalities which may indicate a problem with the ventricles (in the recovery beat).
↑Behar JA, Bonnemains L, Shulgin V, Oster J, Ostras O & Lakhno I. (2019). Non-invasive fetal electrocardiography for the detection of fetal arrhythmias. Prenat. Diagn. , , . PMID: 30602066DOI.
↑Lopes-Pereira J, Costa A, Ayres-de-Campos D, Costa-Santos C, Amaral J & Bernardes J. (2018). Computerized analysis of cardiotocograms and ST signals is associated with significant reductions in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cesarean delivery: an observational study in 38 466 deliveries. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , , . PMID: 30594567DOI.
↑Gu X, Zhu H, Zhang Y, Han J, Zhang H, Liu Y, Wang A, Liu B, Xue J, Sun B, Weng Z, Ge S & He Y. (2018). Quantile Score: A New Reference System for Quantitative Fetal Echocardiography Based on a Large Multicenter Study. J Am Soc Echocardiogr , , . PMID: 30591282DOI.
↑Li SF, Wang Y, Li GF, Zhao YY, Chen L & Zhang S. (2018). [Diurnal rhythm of fetal heart rate in third trimester of pregnancy]. Zhonghua Fu Chan Ke Za Zhi , 53, 849-854. PMID: 30585024
Bennet L & Gunn AJ. (2009). The fetal heart rate response to hypoxia: insights from animal models. Clin Perinatol , 36, 655-72. PMID: 19732619DOI.
Butcher JT & Markwald RR. (2007). Valvulogenesis: the moving target. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. , 362, 1489-503. PMID: 17569640DOI.
Hashima JN, Frias AE, Bernard L, Spindel ER, Hobbs TR & Rasanen J. (2010). Fetal ventricular diastolic filling characteristics in a primate model: the role of fetal heart rate and pulmonary vascular impedance. Reprod Sci , 17, 760-6. PMID: 20595708DOI.
Park YS, Koh SK, Hoh JK & Park MI. (2010). Difference of fetal heart rate accelerations based on 10 and 15 beats per minute. J. Obstet. Gynaecol. Res. , 36, 291-5. PMID: 20492379DOI.
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