Newborn electrocardiogram (ecg): when and why

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Electrocardiogram (ecg) newborn

L'electrocardiogram (ECG) is a quick and easy test that allows you to check the electrical activity of a baby's heart as it beats. Let's see how it's done thereelectrocardiogram (ecg) newborn and when requested.

In this article

  • When to do it?
  • How do you give an ecg to a newborn?
  • Values ​​of the electrocardiogram at newborns
  • Cost
  • Guidelines for interpreting the electrocardiogram
  • Where to do the electrocardiogram of a child?

When to do it?

Some of the conditions that may require a electrocardiogram in the newborn I'm:

  • An enlarged heart: caused, for example, by heart defects present at birth (therefore congenital), problems with the heart valves or blood vessels, high blood pressure or heart failure.
  • Ischemia: means that the heart muscle is not receiving oxygen due to the accumulation of fat in the arteries or other obstructions of the blood vessels.
  • Conduction disturbances which causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or at an irregular rhythm.
  • Abnormal electrolytes: low levels of minerals, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, in the blood.
  • Pericardite: an inflammation or infection of the pericardium, a sac-like structure that surrounds the heart.

The main reasons why an ECG is required for a child run are also:

  • chest pain,
  • suspected arrhythmia,
  • syncopal episodes,
  • heart murmurs (in suspicion of heart disease),
  • convulsions,
  • fitness for sporting activity,
  • electrolyte disturbances,
  • use of certain medications.
Read also: Congenital heart disease

How do you give an ecg to a newborn?

The electrocardiogram is performed in approx 10 minutes using a simple, small and portable machine that does not cause any pain. Electrodes, adhesives, are applied to specific points of the child's body, and each electrode is connected to a cable which in turn is connected to the device that records the signals, the electrocardiograph.

The presence of the parent is required, also because the child must remain as still and calm as possible.

What are congenital heart diseases

As the Del Paesena Society of Pediatrics, congenital heart diseases (CC) are a heterogeneous group of pathologies characterized by structural alterations of the heart or large vessels, due to an abnormal formation of structures during the very first weeks of embryonic development and constitute one of the most important causes of mortality in the neonatal.

Values ​​of the electrocardiogram at newborns

As we said, the main changes in the pediatric ECG occur during the first year of life and most of the normal values ​​in the adult are abnormal in the newborn. THE normal ECG values ​​in the pediatric population traditionally derive from those published in 1979 by Davignon: The percentile tables published at the time are therefore still recommended for use in clinical practice today.


On average, an electrocardiogram for a baby or child in a private center costs a lot 30 to 50 euros.

Guidelines for interpreting the electrocardiogram

The electrocardiogram is a useful tool in the management of pediatric heart disease, but interpretation requires practice due to the numerous physiological changes that occur in the circulatory system in this age group.

The most significant changes in the heart occur at birth and within the first year of life. In order to interpret pediatric electrocardiograms (ECGs) it is therefore essential to have experience and the ability to understand these events and what are the physiological changes to consider.

Correct interpretation of neonatal ECGs is very important in light of the upcoming, probable updates of neonatal screening programs that intend to include a neonatal ECG among the tests that are performed on the newborn after birth.

  • The current guidelines can be downloaded here.

Where to do the electrocardiogram of a child?

L'electrocardiogram it can be done in the hospital, upon reservation and payment of the ticket, or in a private center, but it is very important that it is done by a pediatric cardiologist, since, as we said, the values ​​that emerge are different from those that come out of a ECG in the adult.


  • Journal of Cardiology
  • The ECG in the pediatric age
  • Normal ECG standards for infants and children

  • heart children
  • exams
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