Newborn’s hiccups linked to brain development, scientists say
Watching a newborn hiccup might make parents anxious but scientists say this involuntary the process could be an important part of brain development.
Researchers have found that hiccups – caused by sudden, spontaneous contractions of the diaphragm muscle – trigger electrical activity in the brain which could help babies learn how to regulate their breathing.
Kimberley Whitehead, a research associate at the University College London’s department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, and the study’s lead author said: “The reasons for why we hiccup are not entirely clear, but there may be a developmental reason, given that fetus and newborn babies hiccup so frequently.”
Pre-term infants – babies who are born more than three weeks before the due date – are particularly prone to hiccups as they spend approximately 1% of their time – around 15 minutes a day – hiccuping.