Associations between Parasympathetic Activity in the Month after Birth and Wheeze at Age 2–3 Years

The findings we report here offer some support for this connection, at least with regard to a preschool-age wheeze outcome

Matthew S. Perzanowski; Khalil W. Savary; Emilio Arteaga-Solis; Laura A. Lautenbacher; Natalie H. Brito; Virginia A. Rauh; J. David Nugent; Amy J. Elliott; Michael M. Myers; William P. Fifer


Scholarcy highlights

  • To the Editor: Increased parasympathetic activity has been implicated in airway hyperreactivity and asthma morbidity
  • Children living in South Dakota were enrolled in the Safe Passage Study, which was designed to investigate prenatal risks for sudden infant death syndrome and stillbirth
  • Basal high-frequency HR variability was defined as the variation in heart rate within the normal range of infant breathing rates using spectral analyses during a 10-minute baseline period
  • An acute change in HR to a 458 head-up tilt test was defined as the maximum minus the minimum HR recorded during the first 15 seconds after reaching the head-up
  • In a model adjusting for sex, gestational age, fetal alcohol and tobacco exposure, and study location, PSA-mediated changes in acute HR and sustained HRV in quiet sleep after the tilt challenge predicted wheeze at age
  • There was no significant difference in wheeze by race or exposure to prenatal alcohol or tobacco smoke
  • Our hypothesis of an association between altered PSA in infancy and subsequent asthma was based on findings from our New York City birth cohort, where we observed that infants with rhinitis or watery eye symptoms in the absence of a cold were more likely to have exercise-induced wheeze, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations for asthma and other breathing problems when they reached school age
  • Multiple measures of HRV in different sleep states were made in this study, increasing the likelihood of spurious findings

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