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High resolution video images of unborn babies are getting widespread exposure this week thanks to a new study that saw researchers studying whether unborn babies yawn in the womb.

Watch video:

The answer: yes, they do.

In the study, 15 babes were scanned using a high tech 4D ultrasound machine at 24, 28, 32 and 36 weeks gestation.

The researchers say they were able to distinguish between babies who were merely opening their mouths from those who were yawning, based upon the length of time the mouth was open.

The study, which was published in the journal PLoS One, found that babies likely yawn several times an hour.

So what does yawning in the womb mean?

“I think it’s potentially a marker of healthy development,” says lead researcher Nadja Reissland.

“Unlike us, foetuses do not yawn contagiously, nor do they yawn because they are sleepy,” she said. “Instead, the frequency of yawning in the womb may be linked to the maturing of the brain early in gestation.”

But mostly, it’s just cute. And for pro-life activists, the more the world sees what the unborn baby looks like in the womb, the better.

[22 Nov 12, John Jalsevac,]