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December 1965

Neonatal Hypocalcemia and Complete Heart Block

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Boston City Hospital, Boston University School of Medicine.

Am J Dis Child. 1965;110(6):672-675. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1965.02090030700015

THE EFFECTS of hypocalcemia have interested investigators since Ringer first pointed out the role of electrolytes in human metabolism. Both the clinical effects of low serum calcium and the relation of calcium to heart function have been studied extensively. In 1898, Howell1 showed that perfusion of a frog's heart without calcium in the perfusate would produce arrest. Rothberger and Winterburg2 showed that calcium exerted a direct effect on the idioventricular pacemaker, while Froelich and Amsler3 showed a direct effect on the contractile elements of heart muscle. In 1914, Morgenstern4 pointed out that hypocalcemia prolonged electrical systole (long Q-T interval on the electrocardiogram). This finding was confirmed by others.5-9 In 1934, Marzahan10 stated that the long Q-T interval was due to prolongation of the S-T segment (iso-electric period) and referred to this as cardiac tetany. This was confirmed by others.11-14 Bechtel15 studied induced

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