Children under 4 and children with autism don't yawn contagiously

Sep 15, 2010

If someone near you yawns, do you yawn, too? About half of adults yawn after someone else does in a phenomenon called contagious yawning. Now a new study has found that most children aren't susceptible to contagious yawning until they're about 4 years old—and that children with autism are less likely to yawn contagiously than others.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, appears in the September/October 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

To determine the extent to which children at various stages of social development are likely to yawn contagiously, the researchers studied 120 typically developing 1- to 6-year-olds. Although begin to yawn spontaneously even before they leave the womb, most of the children in this study didn't show signs of contagious yawning until they were 4.

The team also studied about 30 6- to 15-year-olds with (ASD), comparing them to two other groups of typically developing children with the same mental and chronological ages. The children with ASD were less likely to yawn contagiously than their typically developing , the researchers found. And children with diagnoses that imply more severe autistic symptoms were much less likely to yawn contagiously than those with milder diagnoses.

"Given that contagious yawning may be a sign of , this study suggests that empathy—and the mimicry that may underlie it—develops slowly over the first few years of life, and that children with ASD may miss subtle cues that tie them emotionally to others," according to the researchers. This study may provide guidance for approaches to working with children with ASD so that they focus more on such cues.

Explore further: Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Children with autistic traits remain undiagnosed

Mar 22, 2010

There has been a major increase in the incidence of autism over the last twenty years. While people have differing opinions as to why this is (environment, vaccines, mother's age, better diagnostic practice, more awareness ...

Yawn alert for weary drivers

Jul 27, 2009

We've all experienced it after long hours driving, the eyelids getting heavy, a deep yawn, neck muscles relaxing, the urge to sleep, the head nodding down... But, you're hands are still on the wheel and you only just stopped ...

Recommended for you

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

1 hour ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.