Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fetuses yawn in the womb, 4D Scans Suggest

Date:
November 21, 2012
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
We know that unborn babies hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb, but new observational research concludes that they also yawn. The 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses also suggest that yawning is a developmental process which could potentially give doctors another index of a fetus' health.

Fetus yawning.
Credit: Image courtesy of Durham University

We know that unborn babies hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb, but new observational research concludes that they also yawn.

Related Articles


The 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses, by Durham and Lancaster Universities, also suggest that yawning is a developmental process which could potentially give doctors another index of a fetus' health.

The study is published Nov. 21 in the journal PLOS ONE.

While some researchers have suggested that fetuses yawn, others have disagreed and claim it is simple mouth opening.

But the new research clearly distinguished 'yawning' from 'non-yawn mouth opening' based on the duration of mouth opening. The researchers did this by using the 4D video footage to closely examine all events where a mouth stretch occurred in the fetus.

Using their newly developed criteria, the research team found that over half of the mouth openings observed in the study were classed as yawns.

The study was carried out on eight female and seven male fetuses from 24 to 36 weeks gestation. The researchers found that yawning declined from 28 weeks and that there was no significant difference between boys and girls in yawning frequency.

Although the function and importance of yawning is still unknown, the study findings suggest that yawning could be linked to fetal development, and as such could provide a further medical indication of the health of the unborn baby.

Lead researcher, Dr Nadja Reissland, of Durham University's Department of Psychology, said: "The results of this study demonstrate that yawning can be observed in healthy fetuses and extends previous work on fetal yawning. Our longitudinal study shows that yawning declines with increasing fetal age.

"Unlike us, fetuses do not yawn contagiously, nor do they yawn because they are sleepy. Instead, the frequency of yawning in the womb may be linked to the maturing of the brain early in gestation.

"Given that the frequency of yawning in our sample of healthy fetuses declined from 28 weeks to 36 weeks gestation, it seems to suggest that yawning and simple mouth opening have this maturational function early in gestation."

She added that yawning could be related to central nervous system maturation but further research involving mother and fetus would be required to examine this theory.

Watch a short video of a fetus yawning in the womb: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fetal_yawning_4D_ultrasound_ecografia_4D_Dr._Wolfgang_Moroder.theora.ogv

This study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nadja Reissland, Brian Francis, James Mason. Development of Fetal Yawn Compared with Non-Yawn Mouth Openings from 24–36 Weeks Gestation. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e50569 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050569

Cite This Page:

Durham University. "Fetuses yawn in the womb, 4D Scans Suggest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210334.htm>.
Durham University. (2012, November 21). Fetuses yawn in the womb, 4D Scans Suggest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210334.htm
Durham University. "Fetuses yawn in the womb, 4D Scans Suggest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210334.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins