How can a baby scream so loud and long without losing their voice?
Asked by Jon Joy via Facebook
Amazing isn’t it? After the umpteenth hour of crying, it would be merciful is a baby ran out of steam. Sadly, they aren’t designed that way. The reason for a baby’s seemingly inexhaustible ability to howl is simple – their vocal cords are structured to withstand long periods of shrieking. Our adult vocal cords are designed for talking: a process that requires precise control of pitch and intonation. A baby has no such requirements and their vocal cords are stiffer and more robust.
The vocal cords (also called vocal folds) are thin, fibrous and contain muscle. A newborn baby’s vocal cords contain more of a substance called hyaluronic acid – which is a bit like a bulking goo. Not only does hyaluronic acid strengthen a baby’s vocal cords, it also makes them optimised to produce that – ever so painful – shrill pitch.
Thankfully, as a child develops in the first year of life, the vocal cord structure, reducing his/her screaming capacity. And anyone who has a toddler will agree, that can only be a good thing.
Answered by Dr Stu