Does Learning Begin in the Womb?

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Story Updated: Aug 28, 2013

Many pregnant women read to their bellies...others play music. And now Finnish researchers have found that an early introduction to sound may be a powerful way to stimulate speech and language development later on.

In a small study, researchers followed 33 women from their 29th week of pregnancy until birth.

Half of the mothers listened to a recorded pseudoword t?t?t? repeated hundreds of times each week...sometimes pronounced differently, sometimes with a different pitch.

After birth, all of the babies were exposed to the pseudoword to see if they reacted.

Infants who were exposed to tatata in the womb showed a significant response to it reacting more strongly to the word, its pronunciation and pitch changes than newborns who weren't exposed to the same stimuli.

Since human fetuses can hear outside sounds at around 27 weeks, the findings suggest they're also learning as they listen.

The authors say these results may lead to interventions that prevent future language impairments and help compensate for genetic disorders such as dyslexia.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with news from today that can lead to healthy tomorrows.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com