Power spectral analysis of the heart rate of the human fetus at 26 and 36 weeks of gestation

E. Ferrazzi, G. Pardi, P. Levi Setti, M. Rodolfi, S. Civardi, S. Cerutti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) was recorded from the maternal abdomen together with sonographic detection of fetal states in four pregnant patients at 26 and 36 weeks of gestation. Computerised algorithms obtained a good recognition of maternal ECG and fetal ECG. The corresponding power spectral density (PSD) was estimated during epochs of quiet or breathing movements for 256 consecutive heart beats. At 36 weeks of gestation the PSD analysis showed heart rate variability components similar to an adult heart. A low frequency component was observed together with a high frequency component in the range of fetal breathing movements. This high frequency component (0.6-0.9 Hz) disappeared from the PSD analysis during epochs of apnea. At 26 weeks no respiratory components was observed in the PSD analysis. The maturation of control mechanisms could be responsible for this difference.

Original languageEnglish
Article number009
Pages (from-to)57-60
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Physics and Physiological Measurement
Issue number4 B
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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