Unborn babies can began learning much earlier than doctors originally estimated, according to the results of a Spanish study. The study concluded that babies can hear at 16 weeks gestation, rather than the typically scientifically accepted 26 weeks.
The study, led by Dr. Marisa Lopez-Teijon of the Institut Marques in Barcelona, involved 100 pregnant women between the 14th and 39th week of pregnancy. Researchers used a device called a Babypod, which was inserted into the vagina, to play Partita in A Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The babies responded to the music, indicating they could hear. Doctors said almost half moved during the music, making head and limb movements as if they were dancing. Another 30 percent began moving their tongues or mouths. Ten percent stuck their tongues out, doctors said. Researchers said they know the music caused the babies to move because most stopped their movements when the music ended.
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Not only did the babies move – doctors said they sang. Video shows the child moving its mouth and tongue, and it looks like singing.
Doctors said it isn’t uncommon for babies to respond to sounds with movements that look like they are trying to speak or communicate. However, researchers never anticipated these movements to happen so early in the pregnancy. Researchers wrote on the Institut Marques website that this proves children can learn before they are born.
That will be a major advantage to new parents and doctors, researchers said.
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“We are aware of and recognize the importance of talking to babies from the moment they are born to promote neurological stimulation. Now we have the amazing opportunity to do this much sooner, which is a huge advance,” researchers wrote.
Experiments with headphones on the mother’s stomach did not result in the babies making similar movements. Researchers said babies could hear their mother’s voice, her heartbeat and the sound of her heels on the floor, but only faintly due to the barrier of the stomach wall.
Researchers said the study’s results would help doctors who want to rule out fetal deafness. The findings could also help improve ultrasound scans with doctors using music to see how the baby moves, researchers said.
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