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New analysis of premature infants' heartbeats, breathing could be cues for leaving NICU
Date:3/26/2012

y also collected other data on these patients, including gestational age at birth (a measure of prematurity), postnatal age (length of time after birth), and age at discharge from the hospital.

Results

The researchers were able to gather 34,600 breathing and heartbeat records for the 1,202 patients, corresponding to an average of 13 days of data for each infant. Their results showed that their analytical method was useful for identifying the link between breathing and heartbeat in this population. Findings revealed that cardiorespiratory interaction steadily increased with each infant's postnatal age. Surprisingly, researchers found no correlation between cardiorespiratory interaction and either birth weight or gestational age at birth, two factors often used to gauge infant maturity. The degree of cardiorespiratory interaction increased over time before the attending physician's decision to discharge each baby from the hospital without respiratory support or cardiorespiratory monitoring, suggesting that each infant's brainstema critical structure that controls many functions vital to lifewas maturing over time.

Importance of the Findings

These findings suggest that by coupling individual breaths to heartbeats, the researchers were able to avoid the pitfalls of earlier methods. The analytical method used by this research team could be useful for monitoring whether premature infants have developed enough to head home from the hospital without complications.

"Since coupling of organs is correlated with good health, continuously measuring cardiorespiratory interaction may provide early detection of subacute, potentially catastrophic illness. Future studies should test the hypothesis that falling cardiorespiratory interaction precedes clinically evident deterioration," the authors say.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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