Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology vol:132 issue:1 pages:97-106
Several studies support the idea that the use of pacifiers can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. To investigate the effect of non-nutritive sucking (NNS), we measured heart rate, abdominal respiration, EMG and arterial oxygen saturation of 20 neonates. Also, in 10 of these neonates, changes in cerebral hemoglobin concentrations were acquired by means of near-infrared spectroscopy. Using a parametric technique to model the heart rate as a sum of exponentially damped sinusoids, two main frequency components were found in the heart rate during NNS: a frequency of approximately 0.08 Hz due to the alternation of sucking bursts and pauses, and a frequency of approximately 0.8 Hz that reflects the influence of the respiration. Our analysis shows that it is the alternation of bursts and pauses itself that causes the increased heart rate variability, and that this is not due to increased effort. This suggests that the neuronal mechanism regulating NNS also stimulates the heart rate. From our measurements, no effect of NNS on cerebral or peripheral oxygenation could be found. Furthermore, we show that our model-based signal processing technique is well suited for the analysis of non-stationary biomedical signals.