WE know that unborn babies hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb but new observational research by Lancaster University concludes that they also yawn.
The scans of 15 healthy fetuses also suggest that yawning is a developmental process which could potentially give doctors another index of a fetus’s health.
The researchers at Lancaster and Durham Universities used 4D video footage to closely examine all events where a mouth stretch occurred in the fetus.
Using their newly developed criteria, the team found that more than half of the mouth openings observed in the study were classed as yawns.
The study was carried out on eight female and seven male foetuses from 24 to 36 weeks gestation.
Although the function and importance of yawning is still unknown, the study findings suggest that it could be linked to fetal development, and could provide a further medical indication of the health of the unborn baby.