In this study, fetuses were exposed to the vibroacoustic stimulation at 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 weeks' gestation.
Fetuses as young as 30 weeks demonstrated a short-term memory of 10 minutes, and fetuses at 34 weeks seemed able to remember information they stored four weeks prior, the authors stated.
The level of stimulation the fetuses in this study received appears relatively high, another expert stated.
"I'm almost certain the baby heard it quite clearly and it was probably pretty loud," said Dr. Richard O. Jones, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and medical director of obstetrics at Scott & White. "I almost wish I could do an ultrasound looking at the baby while they were making these loud noises. I would not be at all surprised to see the baby putting its hands over its ears."
And, of course, doctors routinely used different forms of stimulation to make sure a baby is alive and, literally, "kicking" while still in the womb.
"One of the things we do to monitor the health of a pregnancy is to have the mother count the baby's kicks. We like to see 10 movements in a two-hour period and most moms get 10 movements in about 20 minutes, especially if they time it after dinner," Jones said.
After reading this study, he added, if a mother complains that her baby isn't moving enough, one of the things he might suggest is turning the volume down.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on fetal development.
SOURCES: Jan G. Nijhu
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