Ultrasound scans of faces in utero can distinguish between when a fetus yawns and when it just opens its mouth, according to research published November 28 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Nadja Reissland from the University of Durham and colleagues at other institutions.
The researchers found that during the period between 24 to 36 weeks of gestation, they could distinguish between yawns and simple mouth openings on ultrasound images of fetal faces. They report that simple mouth openings occur less often than yawns and the frequency of these openings declines from 24 weeks of gestation onward. More than half of all mouth openings are yawns at 24 weeks of gestation, and the frequency of yawns begins to decline at a later stage (28 weeks onward).
The study suggests that trends in yawning behavior may potentially be used to track healthy fetal development. Reissland says, "Fetus yawning is not contagious, nor do they yawn because they are "sleepy". Instead, frequency of yawning in the womb might be related to activity-dependent brain maturation early in gestation."
Reissland N, Francis B, Mason J (2012) Development of Fetal Yawn Compared with Non-Yawn Mouth Openings from 24 Weeks Gestation. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50569. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050569
Public Library of Science: http://www.plos.org
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Algorithms developed by Google designed to encode thoughts, could lead to computers with ‘common sense’ within a decade, says leading AI scientist
New fossil evidence suggests dogs emerged as a separate species from wolves far earlier than scientists previously believed
Researchers discover the 425-million-year-old remains of a new species of parasite - still clamped to the host animal it invaded.
It should be raptor egg blue instead of robin egg blue. Some modern birds lay colourful eggs, but now we know it's a trick their dinosaur ancestors used too
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world's ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe.
Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world's ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe.
Researchers say they're excited about a new brain implant that allowed a paralyzed patient to control a robotic arm with his mind. Erik Sorto is the first in the world to have this new neural prosthetic device. Elaine Quijano reports.
Genetically, at least, not that much has changed in the billion years since you two last shared a relative. Roughly half the 500 genes yeast need for life are interchangeable with the human versions.
What controls aging? Biochemist Cynthia Kenyon has found a genetic mutation that can more than double the lifespan of a tiny worm, which points to how we might one day significantly extend human life.
Java sparrows amp up their tunes with acoustic beak taps synchronized with chirps