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Title: Maternal sleep behaviours preceding fetal heart rate events on cardiotocography.
Austin Authors: Wilson, Danielle L ;Fung, Alison M;Skrzypek, Hannah;Pell, Gabrielle;Barnes, Maree ;Howard, Mark E ;Walker, Susan P
Affiliation: Institute for Breathing and Sleep
Mercy Hospital for Women, Heidelberg
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date: Apr-2022 2022-02-14
Publication information: The Journal of Physiology 2022; 600(7): 1791-1806
Abstract: Maternal sleep behaviours including supine position and sleep-disordered breathing are potential contributors to stillbirth but much of this work is based on self-reported data. Using time-synchronised polysomnography and cardiotocography, we found that nocturnal fetal heart rate decelerations were more likely to be preceded by a change in body position compared to epochs containing normal fetal heart rate, particularly in hypertensive pregnancies with or without fetal growth restriction. There was no temporal relationship between maternal sleeping position, snoring or apnoeic events and an abnormal fetal heart rate overnight. We conclude that most fetuses can tolerate sleep-related stressors with no evidence of fetal heart rate changes indicating compromised wellbeing. Further work needs to identify how sleep behaviours contribute to stillbirth risk and how these intersect with underlying maternal and fetal conditions. ABSTRACT: In Australia, a significant proportion of stillbirths remain unexplained. Recent research has highlighted nocturnal maternal behaviours as potentially modifiable contributors. This study determined whether sleep-related behaviours including sleep position and sleep-disordered breathing adversely affect fetuses overnight, in both uncomplicated pregnancies and those at increased risk due to hypertensive disorders or fetal growth restriction (FGR). All participants underwent polysomnography with time-synchronised fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring (cardiotocography - CTG) in late pregnancy. CTGs were analysed for abnormal FHR events, including decelerations and reduced variability, by two blinded observers and exported into the sleep study to temporally align FHR events to sleep behaviours. For each FHR event, 10 control epochs with normal FHR were randomly selected within the same participant. Conditional logistic regression assessed the relationships between FHR events and sleep behaviours. From 116 participants, 52 had a total of 129 FHR events overnight; namely prolonged decelerations and prolonged periods of reduced variability. Significantly more FHR events were observed in women with FGR and/or a hypertensive disorder compared to uncomplicated pregnancies (p = .006). FHR events were twice as likely to be preceded by a change in body position within the five minutes prior, compared to control epochs (p = .007), particularly in hypertensive pregnancies both with and without FGR. Overall, FHR events were not temporally related to supine body position, respiratory events or snoring. Our results indicate that most fetuses tolerate sleep-related stressors, but further research is needed to identify the interplay of maternal and fetal conditions putting the fetus at risk overnight. Abstract figure legend   This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1113/JP282528
ORCID: 0000-0001-6754-7359
Journal: The Journal of Physiology
PubMed URL: 35060129
PubMed URL:
Type: Journal Article
Subjects: fetal heart rate decelerations
sleep position
sleep-disordered breathing
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