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Effect of Abdominal Vibroacoustic Stimulation on Sound and Acceleration Levels at the Head of the Fetal Sheep

Obstetrics & Gynecology: August 1997
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Objective To measure the vibratory response of the fetal head and abdominal wall in sheep during vibroacoustic stimulation.

Methods A piezoresistive accelerometer was attached to the skulls of seven sheep fetuses (128-134 days' gestational age), and a miniature hydrophone was attached to the skin overlying the fetal temporal bone. During fetal preparation and vibroacoustic stimulation procedures, ewes were anesthetized and supine. Vibroacoustic stimulation of the maternal abdomen was produced by each of two clinical devices that differed in spectral content, and an electric toothbrush.

Results The approximate fundamental frequencies (f0) and first overtones (f1), as determined by both recordings of intrauterine sound pressure level and fetal head acceleration, were as follows: fetal acoustic stimulator, 75 and 150 Hz; electronic larynx, 150 and 300 Hz; and electric toothbrush, 25 and 50 Hz, respectively. At fundamental frequencies and first overtones, the ranges of fetal head accelerations (expressed in 1/12-octave bands) were as follows: fetal acoustic stimulator, 10-53 and 25-224 mm/sec2; electronic larynx, 10-53 and 18-114 mm/sec2; and electric toothbrush, 33-792 and 8-116 mm/sec2, respectively. Sound pressure levels exceeded 110 dB in all cases. High sound pressure levels in the uterus were proportional to fetal head vibration levels.

Conclusion Vibroacoustic stimulation of the surface of the abdomen of pregnant sheep is accompanied by both acoustic and vibratory exposure of the fetus.

Address reprint requests to: Robert M. Abrams, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Box 100294, Gainesville, FL 32610-0294. E-mail:

© 1997 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Vibroacoustic stimulation of pregnant sheep results in detectable vibration of the fetal head.