Speak up! Your baby may be listening

As your baby develops week by week, you might sing to him or her just before you go to bed, or talk with your child-to-be as you go about your day. Your friends might give you weird looks or you might think it's only for your own benefit, but surprise! According to Ars Technica, recent research from the University of Helsinki indicates that 27 weeks into fetal development, your growing baby may begin listening to the world around him or her.

After that length of time, the fetus should have the ears and brain power to recognize the sounds occurring around him or her. To test whether newborns actually recognized what they heard in the womb, the researchers played the nonsense word "tatata" during pregnancy while occasionally varying the middle syllable's pitch. 

Following birth, this sound was played again, both to babies who heard it in the womb and those who had not. The study discovered that children who heard it before delivery had an increase in the brain's electrical activity that was absent in the other infants. The newborns exposed to the sound could also recognize the change in pitch. 

"Sound can be quite clearly heard in the womb," Dr. Alexandra Lamont, who specializes in developmental psychology, told the source. "Once the necessary brain development has taken place to enable learning, the fetus certainly can learn music or other sounds before birth."

This may explain why babies focus more on their mother's voice than anyone else's. They're used to hearing it in the womb, so it's more familiar to them. According to the Mayo Clinic, an infant recognizing the sound of your voice is one of the earliest signs of communication, along with smiling at you and cooing on occasion.

But what does it all mean?
The purpose of the research was to find out whether babies can learn in the womb. Since the infants responded to the sounds they heard, the Helsinki scientists believe that children's education can start before they're even delivered. This would only be for simplistic information, but the study's authors think that prenatal treatment for conditions like dyslexia may be possible. The disorder wouldn't be diagnosed until well after delivery, but since it's partially genetic, therapy could begin with families that have a history of it. 

Did you sing or talk to your children before they were born? Did you think it was good for them? Leave a comment and let us know!