Scientists may have just worked out why we hiccup

The babies involved in the study were pre-term and full-term, ranging from 30 to 42 weeks gestational age (file photo).

(CNN)Although hiccups seem a nuisance, scientists have discovered they may play a crucial role in our development -- by helping babies to regulate their breathing.

In a study led by University College London (UCL), researchers monitoring 13 newborn babies found that hiccupping triggered a large wave of brain signals which could aid their development.
Lorenzo Fabrizi, the study's senior author, said in a statement that this brain activity might help babies "to learn how to monitor the breathing muscles," eventually leading to an ability to control breathing voluntarily.
He added: "When we are born, the circuits which process body sensations are not fully developed, so the establishment of such networks is a crucial developmental milestone for newborns."