CO2 reactivity of cerebral hemoglobin concentration was studied in 16 healthy term neonates on days 1 and 4 after birth using the near infrared spectrophotometry (NIRS) technique. The aim was to establish data on the physiological range of CO2 reactivity in healthy newborns and to investigate the influence of postnatal age on it. The CO2 reactivity measured by NIRS is expressed as the change of the total cerebral hemoglobin concentration (tHbR) per change of CO2 tension in µmol/l/kPa. We evaluated CO2 reactivity during increases and decreases of transcutaneous CO2 partial pressure and found in our methodological setting the data of the increases more reliable. In all infants but 1 we found a tHbR on day 1 with a mean value of 8.19 µmol/l/kPa (–1.39 to 18.87), in all infants on day 4 with a mean value of 9.54 µmol/l/kPa (2.76–25.88). There is a trend to higher values between day 1 and day 4 (difference = 2.25 µmol/l/kPa; p = 0.08). The noninvasive NIRS technique enabled us to test the cerebrovascular CO2 reactivity of the tHbR for the first time in healthy term newborns. Data on its physiologic range and variability are presented and compared to findings from ventilated infants and other age groups. As the CO2 reactivity might be an indicator for infants at risk of cerebral damage, it is necessary to have data on the physiological range of this parameter.

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