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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.

 

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