Electromagnetic Fields May Influence Newborn Heart Rate
Infants' heart rate variability changed when incubator motors were switched off and on
THURSDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- The electromagnetic fields produced in incubators may create changes in newborns' heart rate variability, according to research published online May 1 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood -- Fetal & Neonatal Edition.
Carlo V. Bellieni, M.D., of the University of Siena in Italy, and colleagues conducted two experiments involving 43 newborns. The researchers recorded electromagnetic fields and measured 15-minute ECGs of infants while the incubator motor was on and off. The second experiment assessed whether changes in heart rate variability might be due to changes of the noise of the fan rather than the electromagnetic fields.
The mean total power (an expression of total heart rate variability) and high-frequency component of heart rate variability (an expression of vagal activity) rose significantly, and the low-frequency to high-frequency ratio fell significantly when the motor was switched off, then returned to base values when the incubators were turned on again, the investigators found. Changes in background noise didn't appear to be a factor, the authors note.
"These observations suggest that newborns should be one case in which a policy of prudent avoidance of an electromagnetic fields is warranted, perhaps because no study has so far excluded the possibility of negative consequences of their chronic exposition to a high electromagnetic fields in incubators," Bellieni and colleagues conclude. "International recommendations and laws set levels to safeguard the health of workers exposed to electromagnetic fields: newborns should be worthy of similar protection, and follow-up programs of formerly premature babies should include the study of sympathetic activity development."