The Relationship between Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity Fluctuations and Sleep State in Normal Newborns

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Cerebral blood flow velocity was recorded for an average of 23 4-min epochs during natural sleep in 11 normal full-term newborn babies. Intracranial pressure, core temperature, and respiration were simultaneously and non-invasively monitored. Sleep state was classified using information from EEG, pattern of respiration, and eye and body movements by a trained observer. From a total of 238 epochs, 66 were considered to occur in quiet sleep, 101 in active sleep, and in 77 the baby was awake, in a transitional state or moving excessively. Slow cyclical variations in cerebral blood flow velocity were observed with a frequency of between 2 and 6 cycles/min, and these were of significantly greater amplitude during quiet sleep (24%) compared to active sleep (16%; p < 0.0001, Mann Whitney U test). There was no difference in median cerebral blood flow velocity (7.5 cm/s). The cyclical variation observed in normal babies were similar to those described in preterm babies and adults, at a similar frequency to B waves in intracranial pressure. They may represent vasomotor waves in the small autoregulatory arteries of the brain. Reduction in sensitivity of the receptors initiating the waves may occur in active sleep or there may be competition from other oscillatory mechanisms.

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