Precordial ECG Amplitudes in the Days After Birth: Electrocardiographic Changes During Transition from Fetal to Neonatal Circulation

Sara Osted Hvidemose, Maria Munk Pærregaard, Christian Alexander Pihl, Adrian Holger Pietersen, Kasper Karmark Iversen, Henning Bundgaard, Alex Hørby Christensen

4 Citations (Scopus)


During the first month of life, the relation between right and left ventricular function is markedly altered. We aimed at describing the electrocardiographic transition from fetal to neonatal circulation by investigating changes in R- and S-wave amplitudes in V1 and V6 during the first 4 weeks of life. This study is part of the prospective, population-based Copenhagen Baby Heart Study offering cardiac evaluation to newborns within 28 days from birth. ECGs were obtained and analyzed using a computerized algorithm. A total of 14,577 newborns (52% boys), median age of 11.0 days, were included. All had normal echocardiograms. Within 28 days from birth, the amplitudes in V1 decreased: R-V1 (1262 µV day0; 947 µV day28, p < 0.001) and S-V1 (1240 µV day0; 473 µV day28, p < 0.001). An increase was observed for R-V6 (825 µV day0; 1196 µV day28, p = 0.002), while S-V6 decreased (830 µV day0; 634 µV day28, p = 0.003). For all amplitudes, interindividual variation was large (up to 20 times). The amplitudes were not affected by sex (p > 0.05), but R-V1, R-V6, and S-V6 positively correlated with newborn weight (p < 0.01). R-V1 and S-V6 showed positive correlation with gestational age (p < 0.05). In conclusion, systematic analyses of ECGs from healthy newborns showed significant decreases in R-V1, S-V1, and S-V6 amplitudes, while R-V6 increased. Interindividual variation was large, making ECGs unlikely as a sensitive tool for diagnosing congenital heart diseases. Our data may serve as updated, digitalized reference values in newborns.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Cardiology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)832-839
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Amplitude
  • Electrocardiography
  • Fetal circulation
  • Hypertrophy
  • Newborns
  • Reference values


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