Fetal maternal heart rate entrainment under controlled maternal breathing

Peter Van Leeuwen*, Daniel Geue, Marko Thiel, Silke Lange, D. Cysarz, Mamen C. Romano, Jürgen Kurths, Dietrich H.W. Grönemeyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence that, during pregnancy, fetal and maternal cardiac activity may coordinate over short periods of time. Aim of this work was to investigate whether controlled paced maternal respiration has an effect on the occurrence of fetal-maternal heart rate synchronization. In 6 healthy pregnant women (34th - 40th week of gestation) we obtained simultaneous 5 min. fetal and maternal magnetocardiograms (MCG) at maternal respiration rates of 10, 12, 15 and 20 cpm as well as under spontaneous breathing. Fetal and maternal RR interval time series were constructed for each MCG data set and synchrograms were obtained using the stroboscopic technique. Synchronization epochs (SE) >10 s were identified in these original data. Furthermore, "twin surrogate" data sets of the maternal MCG were constructed, combined with the fetal MCG data and SE were identified in these surrogate data. In the original data, there was a higher number of SE found at 20 cpm respiratory rate compared to other rates. This was not evident in the surrogate data. Fewer SE were found at lower rates (10 cpm) both in the original and surrogate data. Examination of the phase of fetal R peaks relative to maternal RR cycles showed that in the original data there was a clear phase preference in the 20 cpm data. This preference was not found in the surrogate data. These results were reproduced on the basis of a mathematical model incorporating the essential elements of fetal and maternal heart rates and their variability. We conclude that fetal-maternal heart rate entrainment may be induced by high maternal respiratory rates and that chance fetal-maternal heart rate coordination may be inhibited by low maternal respiratory rates.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th International Conference on Biomagnetism Advances in Biomagnetism - Biomag2010
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2010
Event17th International Conference on Biomagnetism Advances in Biomagnetism, Biomag2010 - Dubrovnik, Croatia
Duration: 28 Mar 20101 Apr 2010


Conference17th International Conference on Biomagnetism Advances in Biomagnetism, Biomag2010


  • Fetal maternal heart rate synchronization
  • Magnetocardiography
  • Modeling
  • Respiration
  • Surrogate techniques


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