Is there an adaptive advantage to nasal plugs in newborns?

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Ms. Young

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Ms. Young asked the Naked Scientists:

Question:  I'm a science teacher for 7th graders.  

During sex education, we watch "The Miracle of Life" by NOVA which ends in the climatic scene of birth.  We want to know if there is an adaptive advantage to nasal plugs in newborns, and if these plugs also occur in other mammals (this question came up when comparisons of embryonic development is illustrated).  Thank you!

Ms. Young and classes at Ernest Lawrence Middle School in Chatsworth, California,

What do you think?


Offline wannabe

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Is there an adaptive advantage to nasal plugs in newborns?
« Reply #1 on: 07/10/2008 20:09:04 »
No, I don't think there is an "adaptive advantage" to nasal plugs. I think it is a phenomenon of normal developmental staging where the structures are at first not sufficiently capable of dealing with the watery amniotic fluid and are being held back from losing the fluid out of the not yet developed structures. Once formed, the mucosal plugs are resorb-ed and the amniotic fluid travels in those places and brings with it hormones and other substances that are needed locally.
I do not know if the same developmental stages occur in other mammals but, since a high percentage of all processes or the same or similar in higher mammals it would only make sense if it would.