Fetal state concordance predicts infant state regulation

Janet A. DiPietro, Kathleen A. Costigan, Eva K. Pressman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Fetal state organization reflects the development of the central nervous system but may also portend individual differences in postnatal state organization. The goal of the present study was to determine the extent to which fetal state regulation, defined as the percentage of an observation period in which fetal heart rate and movement concordance was displayed, is associated with neonatal state regulation. Neonatal state regulation was evaluated through a standard neurobehavioral assessment at 2 weeks postpartum. Biobehavioral concordance was measured in 52 normally developing fetuses at 24, 30 and 36 weeks gestation using an actocardiograph; the neonatal assessment was administered to 41 of these as infants. Intrafetal stability in biobehavioral concordance did not emerge prior to 36 weeks. Fetuses with higher concordance at 36 weeks were infants that displayed better state regulation during the exam, including more alertness and orientation (r(35)=0.29), less cost of maintaining attention (r=0.36), less irritability (r=-0.41), better regulatory capacity (r=0.47), a greater range of available states (r=0.34), and were significantly more likely to maintain control during the most aversive portions of the exam F(1,31)=4.63, p<0.05). These results support fetal state as a stable individual attribute that is conserved across the prenatal and neonatal periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Central nervous system
  • Fetal state concordance
  • Infant state regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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