Fetal yawning activity in normal and high-risk fetuses: A preliminary observation

B. Petrikovsky, G. Kaplan, N. Holsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective. To study yawning activity in healthy fetuses and in fetuses at high risk. Methods. Yawning activity was studied in 16 healthy and 22 high-risk fetuses. Studies were performed in the post-prandial state at 09.00 and 12.00 in a quiet room with the woman in the lateral recumbent position. All ultrasound examination were performed using a 3.5-MHz Acuson 128 PX curvilinear probe. Fetal lips, mouth, tongue, pharynx, larynx, trachea and esophagus were surveyed in serial coronal and sagittal planes. All fetal mouthing movements were analysed by a review of the videotape in slow motion. Results. In both normal and high-risk fetuses, yawning was represented by isolated mouthing movements and consisted of slow opening of the mouth with simultaneous downward movements of the tongue. This phase occupied 50-75% of the yawning cycle. After reaching it maximum opening, the mouth remained wide open for 2-8 s and returned to its resting postion within seconds. Growth-restricted fetuses demonstrated yawning pattterns consisting of isolated yawns similar to those seen in healthy fetuses. Unusual burst of fetal yawning activity were recorded in anemic fetuses. Conclusion. Yawning activity in anemic fetuses may represent a compensatory process to increase venous return to the heart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-130
Number of pages4
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Fetal behavior
  • Fetal yawning
  • Hypoxia


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