Various other questions on the site have talked about the Diving Reflex, which is also known as the Mammalian Diving Reflex. This reflex is observed in mammals of various species, but also in human adults and infants. A number of studies have been done examining the diving reflex (e.g. Advances in Physiologic Education).

If you've ever observed an infant submerged in water (e.g. at a swimming pool) who has this reflex it seems so amazing because the baby will spontaneously hold his/her breath while submerged.

Are there any estimates of long an infant will hold his/her breath as part of the dive reflex?

Obviously this is dangerous to try and test this in the real world, but I'm wondering if anyone has any idea. This reflex seems so remarkable to me because unlike the adult human who knows they shouldn't breath in water, I would think that the baby doesn't know that at such a young age.

  • $\begingroup$ It's life threatening because water enters the stomach of infant. $\endgroup$
    – JM97
    Jan 30 '17 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JM97 what is life threatening about water entering in the stomach? I'm not following what you're saying. $\endgroup$ Jan 30 '17 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ The infant will drown , and it doesn't know how to swim. $\endgroup$
    – JM97
    Jan 30 '17 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ when my 3 month old son was in swimming lessons he would spontaneously hold his breath and go underneath the water just fine... actually 10-15 times in a 30-45 min time frame...and he's doing just fine - do you have a particular source that you get your information on this? $\endgroup$ Jan 30 '17 at 2:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JM97 correct, but that doesn't mean the infant will drown just because some water enters the upper GI tract $\endgroup$ Jan 30 '17 at 2:42

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