Short Course: Yawning begins early, no one is sure why

Yawning begins early, no one is sure why

NEW YORK: Everyone yawns. And we start yawning even before we are born. Now, using ultrasound video recordings, researchers have worked out a technique to distinguish prenatal yawns from the simple mouth openings that we also engage in well before birth. For the study, published on Wednesday in PLoS One, scientists scanned 15 healthy foetuses, eight girls and seven boys, at 24, 28, 32 and 36 weeks' gestation. They distinguished yawns from jaw openings by the timing of the action and shape of the foetuses' mouths. In all, they counted 56 yawns and 27 non-yawn mouth openings. By 36 weeks, the yawning had completely disappeared. Why foetuses yawn is unclear — for that matter, it is unclear why adults yawn. In any case, the study's lead author, Nadja Reissland, a developmental psychologist at Durham University in England, said that yawning in a foetus is different from yawning in adults. "When you see a fetus yawning, it's not because it's tired," she said. "The yawning itself might have some kind of function in healthy development. Fetuses yawn, and then as they develop they stop yawning. There's something special in yawning."

Heart attacks more common among unemployed

NEW YORK: People who have recently lost their jobs are more likely to suffer a heart attack than their employed peers, a new study suggests. Researchers found each successive job loss was tied to a higher chance of heart problems among more than 13,000 older adults. Still, it's not clear if or how unemployment, itself, might have caused the extra heart attacks. Matthew Dupre, the lead researcher on the report from the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina, said a combination of stress, worsening lifestyle and poor management of chronic conditions without health insurance may be to blame. But it's too early to know for sure what's behind the link, he said, which means it's also too early to recommend ways to ward off heart problems among the recently-unemployed. The new data came from a large US study of 13,451 adults.

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