In order to assess possible changes in myocardial relaxation occurring during the neonatal period, M-mode echocardiograms were recorded serially in 9 normal term infants and in another group of 10 one-month-old infants. The tracings were studied with an M-mode calculator. Although individual variations were greater in the data collected during the first 24 h, no significant difference was found in the indices of diastolic function of the left ventricle during the first 4 days of age. The following changes were observed between data recorded at 4 days and 1 month, respectively: normalized peak rate of left ventricle filling, 4.03 vs. 4.71 cm/s; diastolic peak velocity of early posterior motion of aortic root, 1.89 vs. 5.15 cm/s; peak velocity of left ventricle posterior wall motion in diastole, 3.31 vs. 3.50 cm/s; mitral valve EF slope, 59.05 vs. 84.92 mm/s; left ventricle isometric relaxation time, 43.88 vs. 28.50 ms. In conclusion: (1) greater individual variations are observed in indices of left ventricle diastolic function during the first day of life, and (2) significant increase in left ventricle compliance occurs during the first month of life. These changes should play a critical role in the clinical course of newborn with cardiopulmonary disease.

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