It's a tough life! Amazing picture shows baby yawning in the womb – and could reveal clues to how we develop<br>
Study suggests unborn babies yawn an average of six times an hourMotion could help the development of brain
regions involved in the movement of the jaw needed for eating<br>

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<strong>UPDATED:</strong>

01:18 GMT, 22 November 2012

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<br><p>He can hardly have been burning the candle at both ends &#8211; but perhaps he&#8217;s tired out from all that growing.</p><p>This remarkable picture shows a baby yawning in the womb.</p><p>It is one of dozens produced by Durham University researchers who were fascinated by whether foetuses yawn and, if so, why.</p><p>SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO<br></p>
<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/8e3carticle-2236402-16240CFB000005DC-507_634x564.jpg" width="634" height="564" alt="Scientists estimate that babies yawn six times an hour in the womb" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Scientists estimate that babies yawn six times an hour in the womb</p>

<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/1c27article-2236402-1625334A000005DC-83_634x510.jpg" width="634" height="510" alt="Stretch! Yawning in the womb could strengthen the jaw, say scientists " class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Stretch! Yawning in the womb could strengthen the jaw, say scientists </p>
<p>To find out, they gave 15
mothers-to-be 4D ultrasound scans four times during their pregnancy. The
last was done at 36 weeks, just a few weeks before the eight girls and
seven boys were born.

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<p>Rather then the grainy &#8216;flat&#8217; images
produced by the 2D scanners usually used by the NHS, a 4D machine
stitches together pictures taken from a variety of angles to create
clear three-dimensional images. </p>
<p>These are then recorded on video &#8211; the
fourth dimension. Researchers painstakingly analysed these highly
detailed videos frame by frame to see how the foetuses moved their
mouths. </p>

<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/7d47article-2236402-16268569000005DC-99_306x423.jpg" width="306" height="423" alt="A 4D ultrasound scan " class="blkBorder" />

<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/212barticle-2236402-16268528000005DC-313_306x423.jpg" width="306" height="423" alt="A 4D ultrasound scan " class="blkBorder" />

<p class="imageCaption">Wide open: Yawning may be a sign of brain development or a quick and easy way of cooling down the brain<br></p><p>Some academics believe that rather than yawning, the babies are simply opening and closing their mouths. </p>
<p>But researcher Nadja Reissland said the scans provided clear evidence that they yawn as well.</p>
<p>On some occasions, a baby would slowly open their mouth, before quickly snapping it shut &#8211; characteristics of a yawn. </p>
<p>The analysis revealed that the youngest babies yawned the most, but there was no difference between the sexes. </p>
<p>Dr Reissland calculated that if she
had been able to monitor the babies for longer, she would have caught
them yawning an average of six times an hour. </p>
<p>She was not sure why they yawned, but
said it was unlikely to be because they were tired. Instead, she
believes that the long, slow stretch could help the development of brain
regions involved in the movement of the jaw.</p>
<p>If yawning is a sign of brain
development, Dr Reissland believes that it could one day be added to
the indicators doctors use to determine whether a foetus is developing
normally.</p>
<p>Her findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE.</p>
<p>See the footage here… </p>

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