(CNN) - They may be annoying, but scientists say hiccups may play a crucial role in our development.
They may help babies regulate their breathing.
In a study led by University College London, researchers monitored 13 newborns. They found hiccuping triggered a large wave of brain signals, which could aid in a child’s development.
A senior researcher on the study suggested the brain activity might help babies learn how to monitor breathing muscles, leading to an ability to control breathing voluntarily.
Hiccuping is seen as early as nine weeks into pregnancy. And babies born at least three weeks premature hiccup for about 15 minutes each day.
Newborns involved in the study had electrodes placed on their scalps and sensors on their torsos to monitor for hiccups. Researchers found contractions in the babies' diaphragms produced three brainwaves.
They believe the third brainwave allows babies to link the hic sound of the hiccup to the physical contraction they feel.
Researchers say hiccups have no known advantage for adults.