Nurses May Have Flipped Off 'Mini Satan' Newborns Because Crying Babies Make Us Crazy

The sound of a newborn crying can cause physiological changes in adults. BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images

In defense of the Naval Jacksonville Hospital nurses who were recently fired for posting inappropriate images of themselves with newborns, anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes around infants can agree these tiny people can be...difficult. Research suggests that the sound of a baby crying may actually prompt a primal fight or flight reaction in adults, and sometimes a person on the edge may commit questionable acts.

On Monday, the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, announced it removed several employees after images of nurses posing with newborns went viral on social media, The Miami Herald reported. The images showed the "navy nurses" giving the babies the middle finger with the caption: "How I currently feel about these mini Satans." A short video showed a nurse positioning a baby to make it appear to be dancing to a song.

Related: Babies' cries could be early language

In a statement on its Facebook page, the hospital condemned the nurses' actions as "outrageous, unacceptable" and "incredibly unprofessional."

It is not clear whether the hospital nurses were enlisted military personnel or not.

Granted, I have no children of my own, but I do remember that one cry from my newborn niece would send me into panic mode, setting me racing to find her mother in an attempt to stop the noise. A 2013 study suggests I'm not alone.

Researchers used brain scans to monitor activity in response to the sounds of an infant crying and found that this initiated an intense and immediate panic response in the middle temporal gyrus, an area of the brain associated with emotional processing. This reaction occurred before the brain even had a chance to comprehend what the sound was—and none of the volunteers in the study were parents, and thus did not necessarily have firsthand experiences with the sound. According to the research, this suggests our reaction to a baby's cries is primal and instinctual and pretty powerful.

Related: Canadian babies cry the most, study says

Dr. Christine Parsons of Aarhus University in Denmark, who co-authored the study, tells Newsweek that although she cannot speculate on the long-term effects that crying may have on pediatric nurses who are constantly exposed to sound, she has observed the short-term effects of hearing infants cry, and they are pretty dramatic.

"You hear a cry and it activates the part of the brainstem involved with our flight or fight brain responses," explained Parsons." It's a biological siren and has very altering increases the heart rate and causes physiological arousal when you hear a baby cry."

While no one is defending the actions of these nurses, perhaps this research may shed light on their psychological states during that time. For the rest of us, it's likely best to take a break from the constant crying before it gets the best of you.

Update: This story has been updated to show that the nurses are affiliated with the U.S. navy, but that it is not clear if they are enlisted military personnel.