The Potential Value of Habituation in the Fetus


This chapter reviews studies of habituation in the fetus. It covers the history of habituation and its relationship to altered function of the central nervous system (CNS) as well as the different ways of measuring it. It outlines how factors such as gestational age, decreased O2 tension, cigarette smoking, drugs and alcohol effect habituation. It examines the differences in habituation patterns seen in both high-risk fetuses and those with Down’s syndrome and their possible predictive value. The question of the safety of its use is also discussed. The chapter includes new studies of the possible clinical value of using habituation to repeated vibroacoustic/sound stimuli (VAS). Data are presented on the ability of fetal habituation to predict infant development at 36 months of age as well as at 7–8 years. Also presented is a new form of fetal heart rate analysis called functional regression analysis which offers the exciting possibility of predicting, whilst still in utero, the infant’s development at 18 months of age and at 3 years.


Habituation Fetal Vibroacoustic stimulation Infant development Functional regression analysis 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Women’s and Children’s HealthUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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