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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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The evolution of the neonatal QRS axis during the first four weeks of life

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Background: The QRS axis represents the sum and orientation of the ventricular depolarization. Accurate interpretation of abnormalities in the QRS axis may facilitate early diagnosis of heart disease in newborns. We aimed at describing the evolution of the QRS axis during the first 4 weeks of life and provide reference values from healthy newborns. Methods: The Copenhagen Baby Heart Study is a prospective general population study that offered cardiac evaluation during the first month of life to all newborns delivered in the Copenhagen area. Results: Electrocardiograms from 12,317 newborns (52% boys; mean age 12 days) with normal echocardiograms were included. The median QRS axis was 119° at the ages 0-7 days and shifted leftward to 102° at the ages 22-28 days (p < 0.001). We found that girls had a significantly less pronounced right-shifted axis than boys (p < 0.001) and that increasing gestational age (GA) was associated with a more pronounced right-shifted axis (p < 0.05). Infant size did not affect the axis (p > 0.05). Only 0.5% had an axis within the interval 0 to −90° and 1.1% in the interval +240 to +30°. Conclusions: The QRS axis showed a gradual leftward-shift during the first 4 weeks of life and was affected by sex and GA but unaffected by infant size. Less than 1% of the newborns had a QRS axis between 0 and −90°. This study represents updated reference values, which may facilitate the clinical handling of newborns.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeonatology
Volume118
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)155-162
ISSN1661-7800
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

    Research areas

  • Electrocardiography, Newborns, QRS axis, Reference values

ID: 66110188