Posts Tagged ‘ fetus health ’

Yawning Begins in Utero, New Research Shows

Monday, November 26th, 2012

A new study conducted by ultrasound has shown that fetuses begin to have a yawning reflex while still in the womb.  Scientists, however, are stumped as to why yawning happens at all, for fetuses or adults alike. From The New York Times:

“For the study, published on Wednesday in PLoS One, scientists scanned 15 healthy fetuses, eight girls and seven boys, at 24, 28, 32 and 36 weeks’ gestation. They distinguished yawns from jaw openings by the timing of the action and shape of the fetuses’ mouths. In all, they counted 56 yawns and 27 non-yawn mouth openings. By 36 weeks, the yawning had completely disappeared.

Why fetuses yawn is unclear — for that matter, it is unclear why adults yawn. In any case, the study’s lead author, Nadja Reissland, a developmental psychologist at Durham University in England, said that yawning in a fetus is different from yawning in adults.

“When you see a fetus yawning, it’s not because it’s tired,” she said. “The yawning itself might have some kind of function in healthy development. Fetuses yawn, and then as they develop they stop yawning. There’s something special in yawning.”

Image: Baby yawning, via Shutterstock

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DNA Testing of Parents to Paint Picture of Babies’ Health Before Birth

Friday, June 8th, 2012

A blood test for pregnant women and a saliva test for expectant fathers are all researchers now need to map out nearly the entire genome of a fetus, according to a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.  The New York Times reports:

The accomplishment heralds an era in which parents might find it easier to know the complete DNA blueprint of a child months before it is born.

That would allow thousands of genetic diseases to be detected prenatally. But the ability to know so much about an unborn child is likely to raise serious ethical considerations as well. It could increase abortions for reasons that have little to do with medical issues and more to do with parental preferences for traits in children.

“It’s an extraordinary piece of technology, really quite remarkable,” said Peter Benn, professor of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut, who was not involved in the work. “What I see in this paper is a glance into the future.”

Image: DNA test, via Shutterstock.

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