Spectral analysis of heart rate fluctuations and optimum thermal management for low birth weight infants

S. Davidson, N. Reina, O. Shefi, U. Hai-Tov, S. Akselrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Spectral analysis of heart rate variability is studied in 10 healthy growing premature infants to investigate the changes in autonomic balance achieved as a function of changes in skin temperature. Heart rate is obtained from ECG recordings and the power spectrum of beat-to-beat heart rate fluctuations is computed. The infants maintain mean rectal temperature within 36.3-37.2 °C, while skin temperature changes. The respiratory rate does not change at the different servocontrol set points. Heart rate is found to increase slightly, but consistently. The low-frequency band (0.02-0.2 Hz), reflecting the interplay of the sympathetic and parasympathetic tone and known to be maximum at the thermoneutral zone, is maximum at 35.5 and 36 °C and decreases gradually to a lower level at a servocontrol temperature of 36.5-37 °C. The high-frequency band (0.2-2.0 Hz), coinciding with the respiratory peak and reflecting parasympathetic activity, is significantly elevated at 36 °C (p<0.01). The minimum low: high ratio, indicating the minimum sympathetic-parasympathetic balance and possibly reflecting the most comfortable conditions, occurs at 36 °C, although the differences are not statistically significant. Servocontrol skin temperature may thus be adapted, and possibly selected at 36 °C for growing premature infants in an attempt to achieve thermal comfort and more balanced autonomic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-625
Number of pages7
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Heart rate fluctuations
  • Low birth weight
  • Spectral analysis
  • Thermal management


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