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What Parents need to know about a Fetus and Baby Hiccups

Unborn babies (during prenatal development) and babies six to nine months old, perfectly normal to have hiccups (Likely an infant will have hiccups if the baby had hiccups in the womb 10). During fetal evolution, researchers theorize hiccupping prepares the infant’s lungs for breathing (diaphragm muscle) outside the womb. 1 Scientists in Paris, theorize hiccupping during prenatal development helps to develop a baby’s motor function to nurse and swallow after birth. 2 The fetus must have a developed central nervous system, before he or she hiccups in the uterus. May not be apparent to the mother, during the last part of the first semester, when a fetus may start hiccupping. During prenatal exam, a Doppler heart tone machine can hear a fetus hiccupping. Later development (second trimester) of the fetus, the pregnant woman may feel small spasm in her belly, from the unborn baby hiccups (Fetal hiccups may last for 30 minutes or longer 2). After birth, preventing a baby’s hiccups maybe possible and curbing remedies may stop hiccups. 3 Babies hiccups tend to last longer than older children and adults. If a baby’s hiccups persist beyond a couple of hours, after one year of age, attributed to gastroesophageal refux, interrupts sleep or daily activities, recommend consulting a pediatrician or doctor. 5

When a baby’s diaphragm muscle contracts, during the time the stomach expands from overfeeding (milk or formula), hiccups occur. 3 According to Lynette Mazur, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center, and the Shriner’s Hospital (both in Houston) anticipates when a baby gets cold, temperatures falls cause hiccups. 5 Other explanations lead to baby hiccups: When the stomach is inflated by air as a baby swallows, being too tired and when the stomach is empty laughing to hard. 8

Common folk law or remedies for curing hiccups for adults, would be harmful for curbing a baby’s hiccups, such as slapping a baby on the back, roughly holding an infant (upside down), scaring a baby or shock an infant. 4 Other harmful remedies that should be avoided, pulling on the tongue, pressing on the eyeballs or breathing into a paper bag. 5

Advisable remedies may curb a baby’s hiccups: Rubbing the back or chest of the infant (“This helps to relax the diaphram and release air from the stomach” Advisable remedies may curb a baby’s hiccups: Rubbing the back or chest of the infant (“This helps to relax the diaphram and release air from the stomach”), a sip of water or something to suck on, adjusting the child’s position, inducing a burp or relaxation may be helpful. Reducing the chance of hiccups by feeding a baby before extreme hunger and during feeding time, eliminate as much external distractions. “If hiccups do occur during feeding, stop feeding and give them a chance to go away (During breast feed, pause and burp before switching from one breast to the other 3) Burping the child can also help.” 4 Dr. Lynette Mazur said give babies sugar water or let them suck on something to curb hiccups, says: “won’t really hurt and might help, but I wouldn’t bet on it.” 5 Bottle-fed babies will hiccup less often, than breast feeding babies. 9

Consider, helpful keeping a Hiccup Journal: Write down when the baby hiccups, duration of time, and if the baby mood changes. The chronicle recording may reveal a pattern when a baby may hiccup during feeding time, thus adjusting the time or place, when feeding could curb hiccups. Also, note any time frequent hiccups cause painful gastroesophageal refux (GER): “A condition where your infant regurgitates some of the food into his esophagus.” If this problem occurs, best to consult your baby’s doctor. 3

Normally a baby’s hiccups subside in a short period of time (5 – 10 minutes 8), unfortunately for parents (especially first time parents) hope it ends sooner than later. Intervention methods necessary to curb or prevent hiccups may be helpful. However, a doctor’s medical attention maybe necessary, underlying medical condition causes hiccups. Rarely, surgery maybe recommended too cut part of the vagal nerve. 6

References:

1.) Hiccups – http://www.babycareadvice.com/babycare/general_help/article.php?id=5

2.) What Experts Say – http://family.go.com/parentpedia/pregnancy/baby-development/hiccups/

3.) 5 Things You Need to Know About Baby Hiccups – http://www.livestrong.com/article/5107-need-baby-hiccups/

4.) The Cause and Treatment of Infant Hiccups in Babies and Newborns – http://www.coliccalm.com/baby_infant_newborn_articles/hiccups.html

5.) Is it normal that my baby gets hiccups all the time? – http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-normal-that-my-baby-gets-hiccups-all-the-time_3652427.bc

6.) Hiccups in Babies and Children – http://www.kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail.cfm?id=2381

7.) How do you get rid of your baby’s hiccups? – http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070723155746AApyHG9

8.) How to Cure Baby Hiccups – http://www.babyfirstyear.org/2009/03/how-to-cure-baby-hiccups.html

9.) Mouth – quivering lip and hiccups – http://www.birth.com.au/Your-baby-soon-after-birth-what-you-need-to-know/Mouth-quivering-lip-and-hiccups.aspx

10.) Baby Hiccups – http://www.healthandnutritiontips.net/baby_hiccups/baby_hiccups.html