- (Kingston, Ont.) - Listen up expectant dads: All those
hours spent talking to your unborn child via your partner's burgeoning
belly don't go unnoticed. New research from Queen's Faculty of Health Science
proves that at 30 weeks the fetus is indeed able to hear and just might
be listening to your muffled words of love.
- Dr. Barbara Kisilevsky and her colleagues in Queen's
School of Nursing have demonstrated for the first time that the human fetus
can hear by the eighth month of pregnancy. Dr. Kisilevsky's findings,
published in the August issue of the Journal of Early Human Development,
give weight to the actions of many expectant parents and are in keeping
with the physiological development of the auditory system.
- "Although we know that the auditory system develops
in the eighth month, there has never been proof that the fetus could actually
hear inside the womb," says Dr. Kisilevsky. "Our study confirms
- Dr. Kisilevsky and her colleagues studied 143 fetuses
(91 low-risk pregnant women and 43 high-risk pregnant women) between 23
and 34 weeks of gestation. The fetuses' cardiac and body response to computer-generated
white noise was measured using an ultrasound scanner. The findings indicated
cardiac and motor responses at about 30 weeks. "If we play sounds
loudly - really loud - the 30-week-old fetuses will move to it, but we
don't get any response prior to 30 weeks," says Dr. Kisilevsky. "What
we still don't know is what they hear, or how clearly they distinguish
- Ultimately, says Dr. Kisilevsky, the team hopes to determine
if what the fetus hears influences its development. "We suspect that
the mother's voice, and what the fetus hears has an impact on its development
- that it shapes the infant to prefer and recognize its native language.
But we still don't know if your child will be brighter, for example, if
you play music to it in utero, despite the notions disseminated in the
- Today many entrepreneurs talk about "fetal universities,"
and sell devices that adhere to the abdomen and transmit music and information
to the fetus. But is this trend based on good science?
- "We don't know if women should be using these devices,"
says Dr. Kisilevsky. "We don't know what they should be playing, how
long, or how loud." In fact, animal studies have shown that when
audio or visual stimulation is provided to chicks in utero, there is a
temporary delay in hearing when they are born.
- "We don't think playing music will do any harm,
but is playing Mozart helpful? Good science has yet to show that there
is any benefit," says Dr. Kisilevsky.
- So expectant moms, you can continue to stock up on classical
music CD's, you just might not need to play them until the 8th month. Then
again, as long as the ghetto-blaster isn't strapped to your belly, it can't
hurt to play music throughout your pregnancy, and it may be your last chance
to listen to Bach's Concerto in D Major in peace. _____
- Spokesperson: Dr. Barbara Kisilevsky, School of Nursing,
613-533-6000, ext. 74766
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