Supine and standing heart rate and heart rate responses to deep breathing and standing up (the 30-to-15 ratio), indices of autonomic nervous function, were measured during each trimester and postpartum in 25 women with insulin-dependent diabetes and 10 nondiabetic women. The groups did not differ with respect to autonomic function in the basal state (postpartum), and the heart rate response to deep breathing diminished progressively in both groups during pregnancy, although the change tended to be less pronounced in the diabetic women. The 30-to-15 ratio did not alter significantly during pregnancy. The diabetic women had a higher supine heart rate than the healthy women in the basal state, but the pregnancy-induced increase in heart rate was less in the diabetic women. Thus, the reversible diminution of heart rate response to deep breathing during pregnancy is a physiological finding and does not denote development of autonomic nervous dysfunction. Second, the increase in heart rate, a primary cardiovascular adjustment to pregnancy, seems to be blunted in diabetic women.

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