Prenatal cardiac function and postnatal cognitive development: An exploratory study

Marc H. Bornstein, Janet A. DiPietro, Chun Shin Hahn, Kathleen Painter, O. Maurice Haynes, Kathleen A. Costigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fetal cardiac function was measured at 24, 30, and 36 weeks gestation and quantified in terms of heart rate, variability, and episodic accelerations. Children's representational capacity was evaluated at 27 months in terms of language and play. Thirty- and 36-week-old fetuses that displayed greater heart-rate variability and more episodic accelerations, and fetuses that exhibited a more precipitous increase in heart-rate variability and acceleration over gestation achieved higher levels of language competence. Thirty-six-week-old fetuses with higher heart-rate variability and accelerations, and steeper growth trajectories over gestation, achieved higher levels of symbolic play. Cardiac patterning during gestation may reflect an underlying neural substrate that persists through early childhood: Individual variation in rate of development could be stable, or efficient cardiac function could positively influence the underlying neural substrate to enhance cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-494
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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