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.
By dipping live specimens in a chemical concoction, scientists are able to keep them alive in the vacuum conditions normally required for field emission scanning electron microscopy.
Astra Zeneca announces a research programme to develop a generation of medicines to treat the genetic causes of many debilitating diseases.
When patients with Parkinson's disease received an injection described as an effective drug costing $1,500 per dose, their motor function improved significantly more than when they got one supposedly costing $100, scientists reported on Wednesday.
New research shows that teenagers' brains aren't fully insulated, so the signals travel slowly when they need to make decisions. Neuroscientist Frances Jensen, who wrote The Teenage Brain, explains.
Researchers would use cohort of 1 million Americans pooled from smaller studies to study disease-gene links, improve personalized medicine
Some people have non-human neighbors of the usual, inspiring kind: Bald eagles and bears, sea lions and salamanders, the sort of creatures found in nature documentaries intoned by deep-voiced narrators who plead on our planet's behalf. But I live in New York City. The star of this show, a charismatic megafauna of my own particular wilderness, is none other than the rat — and what science is teaching us may change how we think of this oft-reviled creature, and maybe even ourselves.
An Oregon company has developed a high-tech process for turning sewage into pure drinking water. Now it's asking the state for permission to give its recycled water to a group of home brewers.
Skull cap of Homo sapiens found in Israeli cave hints at time and place of cross-species mingling
Is there a conscious generosity in how ravens or bats share food, or monkeys or elephants save others, or is it simply the selfish instinct of group survival?
DNA research into early canine remains also raises clues about migration patterns of ancient humans