Study: Babies in womb respond to mother’s touch, voice

The babies' reactions became more pronounced the farther along they were in the pregnancy. Observers detected reactions as early as 21 weeks' gestation.
Thu Feb 18, 2016 - 4:51 pm EST
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DUNDEE, Scotland, February 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A new study shows what expectant mothers have known for centuries: their babies in the womb respond when they stroke their pregnant bellies.

The University of Dundee conducted a study of 23 expectant mothers between the 21st and 33rd week of gestation. While a sonogram documented their babies' reactions, the mothers read a story to their babies, and then later rubbed their abdomens, and then later, as a "control test," mothers simply lay still with their hands at their side.

Not surprisingly, developing babies responded to both the voices of their mothers and their mothers' touch, even indirectly through stroking the maternal abdomen. The study notes that babies "actively regulate their behaviors as a response to the external stimulation," and they do so earlier than previously thought.

The study also that found the child within responds more to his mother's touch than to her voice.

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The Scottish researchers concluded that "maternal touch of the abdomen [is] a powerful stimulus" and that the developing babies' arm, head, and mouth movements when the mother touched her abdomen "may indicate that fetuses are trying to communicate with their mothers, fathers, and family members."

The decreased movement in reaction to the mother's voice may indicate attentiveness, not a lack of response. The study admitted, "Further research is necessary to truly determine the intent of fetal responses to touch and sound."

Babies farther along in pregnancy showed more movement in response to both their mothers' voices and touch, even though their movement was restricted due to their growing size.

  fetal development, pregnancy

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