Unborn babies “sing and dance” to music

“Babypod” inserted directly into mother’s womb

By Dave Andrusko

babypodreA few months ago–October 8, to be exact–we posted a story about the “Babypod,” a device which, in effect, pipes in music to the unborn child.

Researchers at the Institut Marqués in Barcelona, Spain, reported that 3D images showed the little one singing and dancing in response.

It was our readers most “liked” story of 2015!

And since there’s more coverage recently–and because the whole topic of in utero education is so fascinating and mildly controversial– I thought it’d be interesting to elaborate on our first story.

It makes intuitive sense that using an external speaker would be less efficient than inserting directly into the mother’s womb. The abdominal wall and fluids would muffle the sound, which is exactly what the researchers assert happens.

Here’s how the Daily Mail’s Cheyenne MacDonald explains it:

The study revealed that the intravaginal music led to physical responses from the babies, while abdominally administered tunes had no effect.

Presumably, the Institut writes, the babies could not even hear the music played through headphones.

Researchers led by Dr. Marisa Lopez-Teijon, observed the reactions of the babies using ultrasound on pregnant women between the 14th and 39th week of pregnancy, and found that the babies showed early attempts at vocalization.

According to Lopez-Teijon, the fetuses responded to music transmitted intravaginally by moving their mouth and tongue, ‘as if they were trying to speak or sing.’

“It proves that learning begins in the womb,” according to the Institut.

A Spanish company produces Babypod. On its website, it says

“Babies learn to speak in response to sound stimuli, especially melodic sound. Babypod is a device that stimulates before birth through music. With Babypod, babies learn to vocalise from the womb.”

Put another way, the Babypod aims to stimulate neurons in the brain. Engaging these neurons helps babies learn to communicate while still inside the womb, according to the researchers.

Mom can share in the music experience, we learn, by plugging headphones into the audio input at the top of the connector

Scientists at the Institut Marqués had previously thought that the auditory system in a unborn baby “does not start working until at least the 26th week of pregnancy,” according to reporter Anne Sewell. “By testing using the new system, however, they have discovered that the fetuses can hear from week 16 and using the new system, the sound reaches them effectively and distortion-free.”