When the authors behind an article published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood noticed that a 33-week-old fetus had facial expressions similar to those of crying, a question came up: can babies cry while still in the womb ?
Basically: no, babies can’t. That’s because the amniotic sac (the membranous structure that surrounds the embryos) is filled with fluid, and fetuses simply cannot breathe deeply, fill their lungs, and vibrate air through the vocal cords to produce the cry, which only comes after the baby is born.
Anyway, other studies analyzed fetuses in utero and noted that these facial expressions develop around 24 to 35 weeks, and their complexity increases with the passing of pregnancy. However, the movements are too subtle for the mother to feel. The bet of experts is that the fact practices the facial movements of crying before birth, preparing it to become functional when breathing for the first time outside the uterus.
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Studies have not been able to answer whether, in the midst of these facial expressions, the baby is trying to vibrate the vocal cords, or whether these expressions are somehow related to pain/discomfort. With regard to intentional crying and smiling, precisely to express an emotion, experts claim that it is only learned through interaction with other people.
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