Fetuses Proven to Yawn, But It’s Not Your Womb’s Fault

By Nick Venable | Published

One of the most debated issues in human history has come to an astounding end. Wait, no, that was that other story. This one is about fetus yawning.

Nonetheless, scientists have disagreed upon the legitimacy of fetal mouth openings actually being yawns, and not just early forms of those duh moments you have when you’re watching an engrossing film and you think no one is watching until someone throws a balled-up piece of toilet paper at you and it sticks to the gathered drool accumulated in your beard. Also, it happens when you’ve been typing for a long time. Anyway, a study published in PLOS ONE proves that these are indeed yawns, but little more can be established at this point, though theories will lead to further research.

A team of researchers from Durham and Lancaster Universities, led by Dr. Nadja Reissland, of Durham University’s Department of Psychology, performed 4D scans on eight female and seven male fetuses from 24 to 36 weeks. Video footage of the scans were studied, with the various, and numerous, mouth openings getting most of the attention. The time durations were recorded, and over half of the instances were long enough to qualify as yawns. They’re not just yawning during the boring parts.

So what causes it? Most fetuses don’t share a womb with someone else, whose own yawning could contagiously cause a chain reaction. I’m assuming their brains aren’t formed enough for actual boredom to set in. It’s thought that it may enter into the developmental process of the fetus, possibly related to the central nervous system, and may one day play a role as a health indicator. But you know how it goes. Further tests must be done. The rate of yawning decreases after 28 weeks, and Dr. Ressland says, “It seems to suggest that yawning and simple mouth opening have this maturational function early in gestation.” If that fetus has a yellow complexion, a spiked head, and his rear sticking towards you, chances are he won’t mature for at least 23 years. Watch a nifty/creepy video of a fetus yawning below…the covers!