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Correlation between diminished vagal tone and somatic dysfunction severity in very and extremely low birth weight preterm infants assessed with frequency spectrum heart rate variability and salivary cortisol

Journal: Medicine (Baltimore) Date: 2022/09, 101(38):Pages: e30565. doi: Subito , type of study: controlled clinical trial

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preterm infants [16]
premature child [2]
pediatrics [390]
somatic dysfunction [149]
neonatal intensive care unit [8]
autonomic nervous system [103]
heart rate variability [43]
osteopathic manipulative treatment [3136]
OMT [3114]
diagnosis [292]
salivary cortisol score [1]
controlled clinical trial [291]


Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is evolving in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) setting. Studies showed its efficacy in length of stay and hospitalization costs reduction. Moreover, it was suggested that OMT has a modulatory effect on the preterm infants' autonomic nervous system (ANS), influencing saturation and heart rate. Even if OMT is based on the palpatory examination of the somatic dysfunctions (SD), there are controversies about its identification and clinical relevance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the inter-rater reliability, clinical characteristics, and functional correlation of the SD Grade score with the heart rate variability (HRV) and the salivary cortisol (sCor) using a multivariate linear model approach. To evaluate those features, we implemented an ad hoc SD examination for preterm infants that was performed by 2 trained osteopaths. It was based on the new variability model of SD that includes an SD Grade assessment procedure. The ANS features were assessed by frequency parameters of HRV studying high frequency (HF), low frequency (LF), and HF/LF, whereas sCor was tested with a radioimmunoassay. The ANS assessment was standardized and performed before SD testing. Sixty-nine premature infants were eligible. SD Grade showed excellent concordance between the blinded raters. Using SD Grade as a grouping variable, the infants presented differences in GA, Apgar, pathological findings, length of stay, and ventilatory assistance. In our multivariate model, HF, LF, and LF/HF resulted linearly correlated with SD Grade. Instead, sCor presented a linear correlation with 5' Apgar and respiratory distress syndrome but not with SD Grade. SD Grade was in line with the natural history of the underdevelopment due to prematurity. Our models indicate that the cardiac vagal tone is linearly related with SD Grade. This finding may improve the multidisciplinary decision making inside NICU and the management of modifiable factors, like SD, for cardiac vagal tone regulation.

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