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Catch ‘em young: Language lessons for your baby may start in the womb

A recent study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech, in the womb, although the voice is muffled.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 18, 2017 16:20 IST
Indo Asian News Service, New York
Prenatal development,Language,Childbirth
Babies can typically distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born. (Shutterstock )

Love to speak to your unborn baby? Well he or she can typically distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born, an interesting study has shown. The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech, in the womb, although the voice is muffled.

In the study, the foetal heart rates changed when they heard the unfamiliar, rhythmically distinct language (Japanese) after having heard a passage of English speech, while their heart rates did not change when they were presented with a second passage of English instead of a passage in Japanese.

“The results suggest that language development may indeed start in utero. Foetuses are tuning their ears to the language they are going to acquire even before they are born, based on the speech signals available to them in utero,” said lead author Utako Minai, associate professor from the University of Kansas.

“Pre-natal sensitivity to the rhythmic properties of language may provide children with one of the very first building blocks in acquiring language,” said Minai adding, “The intrauterine environment is a noisy place. The foetus is exposed to maternal gut sounds, her heartbeats and voice, as well as external sounds.

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First Published: Jul 18, 2017 16:18 IST