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Biol Lett. 2014 Aug;10(8). pii: 20140350. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0350.

Preterm birth is associated with an increased fundamental frequency of spontaneous crying in human infants at term-equivalent age.

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Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Pediatrics, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan


Human infant crying has been researched as a non-invasive tool for assessing neurophysiological states at an early developmental stage. Little is known about the acoustic features of spontaneous cries in preterm infants, although their pain-induced cries are at a higher fundamental frequency (F0) before term-equivalent age. In this study, we investigated the effects of gestational age, body size at recording and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) on the F0 of spontaneous cries in healthy preterm and full-term infants at term-equivalent age. We found that shorter gestational age was significantly associated with higher F0, although neither smaller body size at recording nor IUGR was related to increased F0 in preterm infants. These findings suggest that the increased F0 of spontaneous cries is not caused by their smaller body size, but instead might be caused by more complicated neurophysiological states owing to their different intrauterine and extrauterine experiences.


fundamental frequency; low-birth-weight infants; preterm infants; small-for-gestational-age; spontaneous cry

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