Experts Say Baby Hiccups May Help Brain Development

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I remember the first time each of my kids got the hiccups. I’d try to scare the hiccups away by yelling, “Boo!”. However, looks like I won’t be doing that anymore because Experts Say Baby Hiccups May Help Brain Development.  So, let those babies hiccup!

According to a study published in Clinical Neurophysiology, each time a newborn baby hiccups, it triggers a large wave of brain signals which could help the baby learn how to regulate their breathing and learn how to voluntarily control breathing muscles.

“The reasons for why we hiccup are not entirely clear, but there may be a developmental reason, given that fetuses and newborn babies hiccup so frequently. -The study’s lead author, research associate Kimberley Whitehead (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology)

In the study, they looked at 13 newborn infants that were pre-term and full-term and recorded their brain activity with EEG (electroencephalography) electrodes placed on the scalp. Movement sensors on the infants’ torsos provided a linked record of when they were hiccuping.

They saw a correlation between hiccups and brain activity which was thought to help babies brain development and learn how to breathe and control their breathing muscles like their diaphragm. Basically hiccups = better brain development in the babies.

“The activity resulting from a hiccup may be helping the baby’s brain to learn how to monitor the breathing muscles so that eventually breathing can be voluntary controlled by moving the diaphragm up and down. When we are born, the circuits which process body sensations are not fully developed, so the establishment of such networks is a crucial developmental milestone for newborns. – The study’s senior author, Dr Lorenzo Fabrizi (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology)

So, there you have it – hiccups are GOOD for a baby to have and can help them develop skills that will last them a lifetime.

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