A systematic review of prenatal screening for congenital heart disease by fetal electrocardiography

Kim M. J. Verdurmen*, Noortje B. Eijsvoogel, Carlijn Lempersz, Rik Vullings, Christian Schroer, Judith O. E. H. van Laar, S. Guid Oei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common severe congenital anomaly worldwide. Diagnosis early in pregnancy is important, but the detection rate by two-dimensional ultrasonography is only 65%-81%.To evaluate existing data on CHD and noninvasive abdominal fetal electrocardiography (ECG).A systematic review was performed through a search of the Cochrane Library, PubMed, and Embase for studies published up to April 2016 using the terms "congenital heart disease," "fetal electrocardiogram," and other similar keywords.Primary articles that described changes in fetal ECG among fetuses with CHD published in English were included.Outcomes of interest were changes in fetal ECG parameters observed for fetuses with congenital heart disease. Findings were reported descriptively.Only five studies described changes observed in the fetal electrocardiogram for fetuses with CHD, including heart rate, heart rate variability, and PR, QRS, and QT intervals. Fetal ECG reflects the intimate relationship between the cardiac nerve conduction system and the structural morphology of the heart. It seems particularly helpful in detecting the electrophysiological effects of cardiac anatomic defects (e.g. hypotrophy, hypertrophy, and conduction interruption).Fetal ECG might be a promising clinical tool to complement ultrasonography in the screening program for CHD. International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Published by
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-134
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Congenital heart disease
  • Fetal electrocardiography
  • Fetal electrocardiogram
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Prenatal screening


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