Significance of bradycardia during antenatal fetal heart rate monitoring

Diergaardt E.W.P. ; Odendaal H.J. (1988)


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All antenatal fetal heart-rates recorded over 15 months were examined for moderate basal bradycardia (100-120/min). There were 5,644 tests in 3,894 fetuses of which 104 (2.7%) demonstrated bradycardia. This study group was then compared with a randomly selected control group. Fetal outcome (measured by intra-uterine death, number of fetal movements, 5-minute Apgar score and birth weight for gestational age) was similar for the study and control groups. Moderate fetal bradycardia does not seem therefore to indicate fetal jeopardy and delivery for this reason per se is probably unjustified. To avoid unnecessary interference for fetal distress, the range of the normal heart rate should be extended and 100-120/min included as normal.

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