Don’t knock hiccups – they taught you how to breathe

News

Don’t knock hiccups – they taught you how to breathe

Scientists say they trigger electrical activity in the brain that could help babies learn to regulate their breathing

Izzy Lyons

Hiccuping is crucial to the development of babies’ brains, a study has found, prompting scientists to suggest that adults are prone to the reflex because it is an “important function” left over from infancy.

Neuroscientists at University College London found that hiccups – caused by sudden contractions of the diaphragm muscle – trigger electrical activity in the brain that could help babies learn to regulate their breathing.

The contractions teach the baby’s brain to monitor its ventilation muscles so that breathing can eventually be controlled voluntarily by moving the diaphragm up and down, the research suggests...

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.