Newborn babies seem to hiccup a lot and there are myths and legends that surround such behavior. Now researchers have found that there is a trigger of brain signals that help the baby's brain find breathing through every such hiccup in a newborn. The UCL researchers published the results of their study in the latest issue of the journal Clinical Neurophysiology .
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Leading author and researcher who sociate at UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology," said Kimberley Whitehead, explaining the study results, "The reasons why we hiccup are not entirely clear, but there may be a developmental reason, given that mothers and newborns hiccup so often. " To do this, study the team that used brain scans of newborn babies to understand the phenomenon of hiccups. Hiksting, the researchers explained, is a phenomenon found in fetuses as young as nine weeks in the womb. It's one of the first known activity patterns seen in a fetus, they added.
The team found that advantageous children were more likely to spend much of their time hiccups. In fact, they spend 1 percent of the day or about 15 minutes a day to hiccup. For this study, the team included 13 newborns in a newborn ward that showed hiccup behavior. These children were born between 30 and 42 weeks of gestational age. Being born before 37 weeks is called premature. The developmental levels of the many infants in the study were seen during the last weeks of pregnancy.
For the study, the team assessed brain activity in infants using EEG (electroencephalography) electrodes fixed to the scalp. They also had sensors placed over the upper body to measure their hiccups. The team found that there were contractions of the diaphragm muscles with each of the hiccups in infants and with each such hiccup there was a response in the cerebral cortex. There were a series of two large brain waves immediately following the hiccup followed by a third wave. It turned out that the third wave was associated with the "hic" sound the child gives with each hiccup. This shows that not only the contraction of the membranes but also the sound input is important for the child to learn breathing and develop brain connections. Such multi-sensory inputs were not known before.
The team says that this input to the brain helps in its development and that the child learns to monitor his or her own breathing and also learns to control the respiratory muscles and diaphragms.
Older author of the team, Dr. Lorenzo Fabrizi of UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology said: "The activity resulting from a hiccup can help the child's brain learn to monitor the respiratory muscles so that breathing can eventually be voluntarily controlled by moving the diaphragm up When we were born, the circuits that process body experiences are not fully developed, so establishing such networks is a crucial milestone for newborns. "
Kimberley Whitehead added," Our results have made us wonder about hiccups in adults, seems to be an inconvenience, in fact, of a vestigial reflex, remaining from the infant when it had an important function. "
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Center.
The same team worked before to study reflex kicks one of the child in the uterus. They had speculated that this pattern of movement led to the child's creation of mental maps. This new study on hiccups and brain connections was an addition to their previous results, the team added.
This previous study, entitled "The Developmental Pathway for Movement-Related Cortical Oscillations During Active Sleep in a Cross-Sectional Group of Premature and Full-Time Human Infants," was published in March 2018 and the study was published in the journal Scientific Reports . For this study, the team had included 19 infants who were two days old and some of them were born term while others were premature. Their brain waves were recorded using non-invasive EEG.
The resets showed that when the babies kicked, an area of their brain that was associated with sensory input was activated. This is called the somatosensory cortex. With each kick, brainwaves that were greatest among premature babies were released. After a few weeks of age, the babies did not show this coupling of the kick with brainwave activation.
Principal author Lorenzo Fabrizi had said, "Spontaneous movement and, consequently, feedback from the environment during the early development period is known to be necessary for proper brain mapping in animals such as rats. Here we showed that this can be true in humans as well. "
Kimberley Whitehead had added," We believe the results have implications for providing the optimal hospital environment for infants born early so that they receive appropriate sensory interventions. For example, it is already routine for infants to be "nested" in their cots – this allows them to "feel" a surface when the limbs kick, as if they were still in the womb. Because the movements we observed occur during sleep, our results support other studies that indicate that sleep should be protected in newborns, for example, by minimizing the disturbance associated with necessary medical procedures. "
Kimberley Whitehead, Laura Jones, Maria Pureza Laudiano-Dray, Judith Meek, Lorenzo Fabrizi, Event-related potentials after contraction of respiratory muscles in premature and full-time children, Clinical Neurophysiology, Volume 130, issue 12, 2019, pages 2216-2221, https: //doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2019.09.008, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388245719312362 Chapter19659019 CH and Chapter19659020]