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Study of cardiac rhythm in healthy newborn infants.
  1. D P Southall,
  2. J Richards,
  3. P Mitchell,
  4. D J Brown,
  5. P G Johnston,
  6. E A Shinebourne


    Twenty-four-hour electrocardiograms were recorded in the first 10 days of life on 134 healthy full-term infants with birthweights greater than 2.5 kg. The highest heart rate a minute, measured over nine beats, was 175 +/- 19 (SD). The lowest rates, measured over three, five, and nine beats were 82 +/- 12, 87 +/- 12, and 93 +/- 12, respectively. At their lowest rates 109 infants had sinus bradycardia and 25 had junctional escape rhythms. Thirty-three infants showed changes in P wave configuration with or without pronounced variation in PR interval. Atrial premature beats were present in 19 infants but only one had more than 12 per hour. In a randomly selected subgroup of 71 infants sinus pauses were found in 51 (72%). Five (7%) had electrocardiographic patterns and rhythm disturbances that could not be differentiated from those previously described as complete sinuatrial exit block or sinus arrest, eight (11%) had patterns indistinguishable from 2:1 sinuatrial block, and 23 (32%) had pattern indistinguishable from sinuatrial Wenckebach block. This study shows that normal infants have variations in heart rate and rhythm hitherto considered to be abnormal.

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