Diurnal rhythms of fetal and maternal heart rate in the baboon

Raymond I. Stark, Marianne Garland, Salha S. Daniel, Pamela Tropper, Michael M. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


To investigate the organization of diurnal rhythmicity during gestation, the relationship between daily cycles of maternal and fetal heart rate were measured in long-term studies of healthy chronically instrumented pregnant baboons. In each of six pregnancies, hourly mean values over a 168 h time series were obtained during a 7 to 10 day interval between 135 and 160 days of gestation. Data were modeled by a least squares fit to a cosine function with a period of 24 h. Hourly mean heart rate in the fetus ranged from 161 to 172 bpm (167.9±0.6 bpm), and the mother from 105 to 125 bpm (107.9±1.4 bpm). The amplitude of the daily fluctuations were 15 to 25 bpm for the fetuses and 25 to 60 bpm for the mothers. The relation between time series data and model estimates were significant (P<0.001) in all cases with aggregate r2=0.747 for fetuses and 0.737 for the mothers. On average the time of day of the peak in fetal heart rate (15:05±0.3 h) was about 45 min after the maternal peak (14:21±0.4 h). This phase delay was significant (t=2.63, P<0.05). There was significant (P<0.01) diurnal periodicity for each of six parameters used to assess different aspects of fetal heart rate variability with peak variability at night (23:00 to 2:00). Thus, during the latter third of pregnancy in both the maternal and fetal baboon 24 h periodicities of heart rate are present with peak rates in the midafternoon. The daily rhythms in fetal heart rate are linked with periodicities in maternal heart rate with a phase delay in the majority of cases. The synchrony of 24 h fluctuations in rate with parameters of rate variability is consistent with diurnal input into the fetal autonomic nervous system. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-209
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Baboon and fetus
  • Diurnal rhythms
  • Heart rate and variability
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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