Their study of 13 newborns showed that swallowing problems triggered brain activity that could help babies “learn to monitor respiratory muscles,” which eventually led to the ability to voluntarily control breathing, Lorenzo Fabrizi, lead author of University College London, said in a statement, according to CNN. “At birth, the circuits that treat body sensations are not yet fully developed, so the creation of such networks is a fundamental step in the development of newborns,” “he” explained. The researchers found that hiccups are common in fetuses and newborns and begin as early as nine weeks after pregnancy, CNN reported. Aug. 13, 2019 — Hiccups seem to help babies regulate their breathing, researchers say. WebMD offers no medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.