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Your Baby

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

2.00 to read

Every pregnant woman wonders how much weight she could gain during pregnancy. For some women, being pregnant is an open invitation to eat whatever and whenever they like, while other woman worry what the weight gain will do to their figure. There is no absolute law about weight gain during pregnancy, but there are set of guidelines that can help you.

Weight gain should be based on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI.) Your health and your baby’s health also play a role in how much weight you should gain.

Here’s a list of suggested pregnancy weigh gain related to a healthy woman’s BMI.

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) – 28 to 40 pounds
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) – 25 to 35 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) – 15 to 25 pounds
  • Obese (BMI 30 or more) – 11 to 20 pounds

Multiples are a different story. If you are carrying twins or other multiples you’re likely going to need to gain more than average weight. Your health care provider can help you determine what is right for you. Here are the recommended weight gain options.

  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) – 37 to 54 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) – 31 to 50 pounds
  • Obese (BMI 30 or more) – 25 to 42 pounds

If you are overweight when you become pregnant, pregnancy increases the risk of various complications including diabetes and high blood pressure. Of course, a certain amount of weight gain is normal, but too much adds to the possibility of dangerous health risks for the woman and the child.

Remember that if you gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy and you don't lose the weight after the baby is born, the excess pounds increase your lifelong health risks. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also increase your baby's risk of health problems at birth and childhood obesity.

If you're underweight, it's essential to gain a reasonable amount of weight while you're pregnant. Without the extra weight, your baby might be born earlier or smaller than expected.

Calculating your BMI is not difficult; you just need to know your height and weight. There are several online BMI calculators that will do the math for you. Your healthcare provider should also have a BMI chart that can show you your BMI.

So, how is the extra weight used by your body when your pregnant? Here’s a simple list to help you follow a normal weight gain.

  • Baby: 7 to 8 pounds
  • Larger breasts: 2 pounds
  • Larger uterus: 2 pounds
  • Placenta: 1 1/2 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
  • Increased blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds
  • Increased fluid volume: 3 to 4 pounds
  •  Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds

During your first trimester, you probably won’t gain much weight. Steady weight gain is more important in the second and third trimesters, especially if you begin at a normal weight or are underweight.

Exercise is also important during pregnancy. Even a moderate amount of exercise will help keep your body strong as the extra pressure builds while you are carrying.

As your pregnancy develops, more than likely you’re appetite will increase. That’s not a bad thing. Just fill those hunger pains with healthy food choices!

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/pregnancy-weight-gain/art-20044360

 

 

Your Baby

Infants That “Resettle” Sleep Better and Longer

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Does this sound familiar?

You finally get your baby to fall asleep and shuffle off to bed yourself. Just as you’re drifting into a deep sleep (say about 45 minutes after you’ve laid down), you hear the cries of your little one. She’s awake and letting the world know it.

The dilemma becomes, do you get up and rock her back to sleep or let her “cry it out” and see if she’ll go back to sleep on her own?

According to a new study, infants who know how to “resettle” after waking up are more likely to sleep through the night.

When a baby “resettles” or self-settles, they have learned how to make themselves fall back asleep without the help of a parent or guardian. While many parents just can’t bear to listen to their baby cry, others find that with patience and a few changes to their baby’s sleep routine, resettling takes effect and their infant is able to fall back to sleep quicker and sleep longer without assistance.

For this study, British researchers made overnight infrared video recordings of just over 100 infants when they were 5 weeks and 3 months old.

The videos were analyzed to determine changes in sleep and waking during this age span, a time when parents hope their baby will start sleeping more at night, while crying less.  “Infants are capable of resettling themselves back to sleep by three months of age,” according to the study by Ian St James-Roberts and colleagues of the University of London. “Both autonomous resettling and prolonged sleeping are involved in ‘sleeping through the night’ at an early age.”

The “clearest developmental progression” between video recordings was an increase in length of sleeps: from a little over 2 hours at 5 weeks to 3.5 hours at 3 months. Only about 10% of infants slept continuously for 5 hours or more at 5 weeks, compared to 45% at 3 months.

At both ages, about one-fourth of the infants awoke and resettled themselves at least once during the night. These infants were able to get back to sleep with little to no crying or fussing.

“Self-resettling at 5 weeks predicted prolonged sleeping at 3 months,” the researchers write. Sixty-seven percent of infants who resettled in the first recording slept continuously for at least 5 hours in the second recording, compared to 38% who didn’t resettle.

The 3-month-old babies were more likely to suck on their fingers and hands than the 5 week old infants. Sucking seemed to be a self-regulatory strategy that helped them fall back to or maintain sleep.

When a baby wakes up and cries throughout the night, parents are the ones that end up exhausted. Letting your infant learn how to resettle make take a little extra effort at the beginning, but can reap the reward of more sleep in the long run.

Letting your baby learn how to resettle doesn’t mean they are not attended to when there is a need, such as when they need changing, hungry or are ill.

Babycenter.com has a good article on how to teach your baby to soothe him or herself to sleep. The link is provided below.

The video study was published in the June edition of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Sources: http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/article/babies-can-resettle-likely-sleep-night/

http://www.babycenter.com/404_how-do-i-teach-my-baby-to-soothe-himself-to-sleep_1272921.bc

 

 

Your Baby

“Hard” Tap Water and Eczema in Infants

1:30

Previous studies have noted an association between “hard” tap water and eczema in schoolchildren, but a new study out of the U.K. suggests it may be linked to eczema in babies as well.

Water described as “hard” contains a high degree of minerals - specifically calcium, magnesium and manganese. It’s not considered hazardous, but it comes with a variety of unpleasant effects such as soap scum in sinks and bathtubs, spots on dishes and shower glass, clogged pipes from buildup and clothes that are left dingy after washing.

By some accounts, 85% of U.S. households have hard water.

If your child has eczema, then you know that it is a chronic condition marked by itchiness and rashes. It typically starts at about 6 months old and can last into adulthood.

The study included 1,300 3-month old infants from across the United Kingdom. Researchers checked hardness -- the water's mineral content -- and chlorine levels in the water supply where the babies lived.

Babies who lived in areas with hard water were up to 87% more likely to have eczema, the study found.

"Our study builds on growing evidence of a link between exposure to hard water and the risk of developing eczema in childhood," said lead author Dr. Carsten Flohr, from the Institute of Dermatology at King's College London.

One way to change the composition of hard water is by adding a water softener system to your household

There are several types of systems including salt-based Ion exchange softeners, salt-free softeners, dual tank and magnetic water softeners plus others.

While the other studies focused on school aged children, this is the first to look at the connection with eczema, hard water and babies, the researchers said.

The study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship, so further research is needed to learn more about this apparent link, Flohr added.

"We are about to launch a feasibility trial to assess whether installing a water softener in the homes of high-risk children around the time of birth may reduce the risk of eczema and whether reducing chlorine levels brings any additional benefits," Flohr said in a college news release.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_159150.html

http://extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/safedrink/hard.htm

 

 

Your Baby

How Much Water Does Your Baby Need?

2.00 to read

Since most of the country is sweltering with summer heat and temperatures well into the upper 90’s and even over 100 degrees, I guess I can understand parents’ concerns about giving their babies water. It seemed like a strange question to me when I first started hearing, “Dr. Sue, how much water does my baby need to drink every day?”  I know I am continuing to talk about staying hydrated during the heat wave, but we are really talking about those children and adults who are spending time outdoors, especially when involved in physical activity.

I have actually been telling parents with newborns that there is really no reason to take that sweet new baby outside for any length of time. I think it is too hot to enjoy being outside, and an infant doesn’t miss going to the playground like a 2 or 3 year old would.

But, when you have young children you have to get out (or go crazy inside everyday), so everyone just suffers through the heat. Remember to take your sunscreen and fluids and head out for an hour or two, in the morning or later afternoon if at all possible. These children need lots of water breaks, as do their parents and caregivers.

So, back to the water and baby question. Infants in the first 6 months are getting fed breast milk or formula which is made up of free water, so therefore a baby is staying hydrated by eating every  2 -3 hours. A baby doesn’t “need” water every day for any particular reason.

With that being said, it does not mean that your baby cannot have a bottle of water. This is especially true for a breast fed infant whose mother may have run out for an hour but is coming back to breast feed.  But what if the baby awakens or gets hungry 30 min or so prior to mother getting home.  This might be a good time to “stall” by giving the baby a bottle of water, rather than formula. In this case it is fine to use tap water (yes bottled water is not necessary, unless you have a well or something) in a bottle and see if the baby will even take it. Most babies don’t just gulp down 8 ounces of water!

If you are out in the heat with an infant, just remember to feed them every 2 – 3 hours and make sure they have nice drool in their mouths and wet diapers. If you are concerned about hydration take along a bottle of water for both you and your baby. You will probably need it more than your baby!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

 

 

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Your Baby

Transitioning From Breastfeeding to Bottle-feeding

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There are as many reasons as there are mothers for deciding to transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. It doesn’t matter what the reason may be, making the change is a difficult choice for some mothers.

“Every mother experiences mixed emotions about weaning and usually feels some sadness about bringing nursing to an end,” says Kathleen Huggins, RN, author of The Nursing Mother's Companion.

Huggins offers several tips for mothers who have made the choice to switch.

At around 6 months (some parents start even earlier), babies are beginning to eat solid foods. Since these foods are more filling, many babies may want less breast milk. If you’re considering switching to the bottle, this is a good time to introduce bottle-feeding - a little at a time.

“Most moms consider weaning when there are natural transitions,” says Natasha L. Burgert, MD. She's a pediatrician in Kansas City, MO. “As baby's diet is changing and his immune protection from vaccines increases, many moms decide to cut back on their nursing.”

An important tip is to make sure you are ready for the commitment it takes to change yours and your baby’s routine. There isn’t a “normal” time to stop nursing your baby. There is only an average time. Some mothers continue to breastfeed up to a year or longer – that’s their choice. Don’t allow others to pressure you. If you try to switch and something doesn't feel right, trust your instincts.

“In my experience, moms are typically not disappointed if they are truly ready,” Burgert says. “If moms are emotionally torn about weaning, maybe it's not time.”

Breastfeeding is often a close bonding time between mothers and their infants. It doesn’t have to stop because you are switching to a bottle. It can also allow dads to experience the unique bond of feeding time.

Just because you begin using a bottle, nothing has to change in how you hold your baby. You can still hold he or she close and have skin-to-skin contact.

“Babies want to be close to you, hear your voice, be warm and snug, and get their tummies full,” Burgert says. “Both bottle and breast can equally do those things.”

If your baby expects you close at mealtimes, don't hand her a bottle, even if she's old enough to hold it.

“I suggest that she be held for all of these feedings,” Huggins says. “In this way, the baby and mother can continue to experience the close, loving bond that comes with nursing.”

Of course breastfeeding isn’t the only time for close bonding. Moms can still snuggle, cuddle and kiss their babies. None of that goes away with the introduction of a baby bottle.

Take your time when introducing the bottle. Make is a gradual transition by dropping one session every few days. Begin with a daytime feeding.

“Babies are busy playing and interacting with their environment,” Burgert says.

“Once solid feeding is going well, roll right into a bottle in the morning, rather than a nursing session.”

Once you start making the switch, ask for help from your husband or partner or other family members.

“It's best if someone else offers the bottles, so the baby associates breastfeeding with the mother,” says Laurie Beck, RN, of the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association.

It's often hardest for babies to give up bedtime nursing.

“To be successful, the routine has to change,” Beck says. You can “offer a drink from a bottle or cup and then try walking around to put the baby to sleep. Or let someone else put the baby to sleep so that they do not associate going to sleep with breastfeeding.”

While baby is adjusting to a new routine, mom’s body is also going through quite a few changes.  When you cut back on breastfeeding, your full breasts can be painful. Even when you are slowly changing over, breasts can feel very uncomfortable.

To relieve the pain try these methods:

Chill your breasts. “Ice packs help to constrict and feel good if the breasts are warm to the touch,” Beck says. You can get the same relief by putting chilled cabbage leaves in your bra. (Really!)

Remove some milk. Use a breast pump to take off some pressure. Don't pump for too long or your body will think that it should maintain its milk supply. “There's a difference between pumping 15 to 20 minutes to fully empty the breasts and removing just enough milk to make yourself comfortable,” Beck says.

Leave your breasts alone. Once you stop nursing, keep breasts off-limits to help your milk supply stop. “Avoid any breast stimulation, including forward-facing showers and sexual foreplay,” Huggins says.

There’s nothing unusual about switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, millions of women have made the same choice. They key is to be ready and to take your time.

Source: Lisa Fields, Roy Benaroch, MD, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/bottle-feeding-15/weaning-from-breast

 

 

 

Your Baby

Why Do Babies Eyes Change Color?

1:30

Close to the top of questions many parent’s have about their newborn is what color will my baby’s eyes be?

It’ll take a while before you actually know your baby’s true eye color. That’s because eye color is a genetic trait that depends on several factors. While your baby may have gray or blue eyes at birth, his or her eyes may eventually be brown, blue, green, hazel, gray, violet or even a combination of colors. 

Parents' genes can mix and match in many different ways. The influences from each parent aren't known until after the baby is born. Eye color traits also include grandparents. A brown-eyed mother and father can have a child with blue eyes if there are blue eyes in his or her genetic history.

The colored part of the eye is called the iris, which has pigmentation that determines our eye color.

Human eye color originates with three genes, two of which are well understood. These genes account for the most common colors — green, brown, and blue.

Most babies are born with blue or gray eyes that can darken in their first three years.

Iris color, just like hair and skin color, depends on a protein called melanin. We have specialized cells in our bodies called melanocytes whose job it is to go around secreting melanin where it’s needed, including in the iris. When your baby is born his eyes will be gray or blue since melanocytes respond to light and he has spent his whole life in the dark.

Over time, if melanocytes only secrete a little melanin, your baby will have blue eyes. If they secrete a bit more, his eyes will look green or hazel. When melanocytes get really busy, eyes look brown (the most common eye color), and in some cases they may appear very dark indeed. Because it takes about a year for melanocytes to finish their work it can be a dicey business calling eye color before the baby’s first birthday. The color change does slow down some after the first 6 months of life, but there can be plenty of change left at that point.

We used to think of brown being "dominant" and blue being "recessive." But modern science has shown that eye color is not at all that simple.

Children can have completely different eye colors than either of their parents. But if both parents have brown eyes, it's most likely that their children also will have brown eyes.

The darker colors tend to dominate, so brown typically wins out over green, and green tends to win out over blue.

Eye color is one of those interesting things that pique our curiosity, but no matter what color your baby’s eyes end up being; they’ll be beautiful because they belong to your special little one!

Story sources: David L Hill MD,FAAP,  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Newborn-Eye-Color.aspx

Burt Dubow, OD, http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/eye-color.htm

Your Baby

A Kinder, Gentler C-Section Birth

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When it comes to having a baby, whether a woman delivers vaginally or by cesarean section, the one thing they have in common is the desire parents have to hold their newborn.

Many women who have had a cesarean section will tell you that the surgical procedure left them feeling like they missed the pivotal moment in giving birth; the physical connection between mother and child.

Oftentimes, the baby is whisked away moments after birth leaving the mother without her newborn.

While C-sections have leveled off in the last couple of years, they are still up 500% since 1970. The reasons for cesarean delivery have changed dramatically from ancient to modern times.

The origins of the cesarean birth are somewhat clouded in mystery, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “… the initial purpose was essentially to retrieve the infant from a dead or dying mother; this was conducted either in the rather vain hope of saving the baby's life, or as commonly required by religious edicts, so the infant might be buried separately from the mother. Above all it was a measure of last resort, and the operation was not intended to preserve the mother's life. It was not until the nineteenth century that such a possibility really came within the grasp of the medical profession.”

These days C-sections are performed for a variety of reasons. In most cases, doctors perform cesarean sections when problems arise either for the mother or baby or both during birth. However, there are also times when possible health issues are known ahead of time and a C-section can be scheduled to prevent complications.

For the most part, the procedure hasn’t changed much since it began being used in modern times.

During a planned traditional C-section, the woman is given medications to dry the secretions in her mouth, her lower abdomen is washed with an antiseptic solution and possibly shaved. She is given an anesthetic and a screen is placed in front of her face to keep the surgical field sterile – blocking her view of the delivery. She may or may not be able to hold her baby immediately after birth.

A new approach to C-section deliveries may offer some families an option they never dreamed possible.

Doctors and nurses at the Center for Labor and Birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed new procedures to make the C-section more family-centered. Dr. William Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesiology, explained that the goal of the family-centered cesarean, or “gentle-C,” is to make the delivery as natural as possible.

For example, Dr. Camann realized that by using both clear and solid sterile drapes, obstetricians could switch the solid drape for the clear one just before delivery and allow mom to see her baby being born.

“We also allow mom a free arm and place the EKG leads on her back so that she is able to hold, interact, and provide skin-to-skin contact with her baby in the moments following the birth,” said Camann, who teamed up with BWH registered nurse Kathy Trainor, to make this option available to patients and their families.

Skin-to-skin touch isn’t just an emotional fulfillment for the mother, research has shown that normal term newborns that are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers immediately after birth do better physically and psychologically as well.

“Allowing mom and baby to bond as quickly as possible after the delivery makes for a better transition for the baby, including better temperature and heart rate regulation, increased attachment and parental bonding and more successful rates of breast feeding,” Trainor said.

With the updated procedure, dads can also hold and touch their newborn. 

Camann acknowledges that changes in the traditional cesarean section require some readjusting from the hospital medical staff.

“It requires (doctors and nurses) to just think a little bit differently than the way they have usually done things,” Camann said. “Once they see this, they usually realize it’s really not that difficult.”

Nationwide, the procedure is starting to take hold as more hospitals begin offering the "gentle-C".

Camann says that the procedure isn’t recommended for every C-section birth. He also emphasizes that it’s not in any way meant to promote more C-sections.

 “We would all like to do fewer C-sections. But there are women who need a C-section for various medical reasons and if you do need a cesarean, we want to make this a better experience,” he said.

Sources: http://healthhub.brighamandwomens.org/the-gentle-cesarean-a-new-option-for-moms-to-be#sthash.hxehc5es.dvbG5DgD.dpbs

A. Pawlowski, http://www.today.com/parents/family-centered-gentle-c-section-turns-birth-surgery-labor-or-2D80542993

http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/what-to-expect-cesarean-delivery

Your Baby

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Reduce Baby’s Asthma Risk

2:00

A Danish study’s results suggests pregnant women that take a fish oil supplement during the final 3 months of pregnancy may reduce their baby’s risk of developing asthma or persistent wheezing.

The study involved 736 pregnant women, in their third trimester. Half the women took a placebo containing olive oil and the other group was given 2.4 grams of fish oil. The women took the supplements until one week after birth.

Among children whose mothers took fish-oil capsules, 16.9 percent had asthma by age 3, compared with 23.7 percent whose mothers were given placebos. The difference, nearly 7 percentage points, translates to a risk reduction of about 31 percent.

In the study, the researchers noted that they are not ready to recommend that pregnant women routinely take fish oil. Although the results of the study were positive, several experts have noted that more research needs to be done before higher doses of fish oil supplements are recommended over eating more fish.

Researchers found no adverse effects in the mothers or babies, the doses were high, 2.4 grams per day is 15 to 20 times what most Americans consume from foods.

One in five young children are affected by asthma and wheezing disorders. In recent decades, the rate has more than doubled in Western countries. Previous research has shown that those conditions are more prevalent among babies whose mothers have low levels of fish oil in their bodies. The new large-scale test, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to see if supplements can actually lower the risk.

Before doctors can make any recommendations, the study should be replicated, and fish oil should be tested earlier in pregnancy and at different doses, Dr. Hans Bisgaard, the leading author of the study, said in an email to the New York Times. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen and the head of research at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, an independent research unit.

Dr. Bisgaard said it was not possible to tell from the study whether pregnant women could benefit from simply eating more fish. Pregnant women are generally advised to limit their consumption of certain types of fish like swordfish and tuna because they contain mercury. But many other types are considered safe, especially smaller fish like sardines that are not at the top of the food chain and therefore not likely to accumulate mercury and other contaminants from eating other fish.

“It is possible that a lower dose would have sufficed," the Bisgaard team said.

The supplements didn't seem to affect the odds of a baby or toddler developing the skin condition eczema, or an allergy such as a reaction to milk or egg products, or a severe asthma attack.

An editorial in the same journal by an expert who was not part of the study praised the research, saying it was well designed and carefully performed. The author of that editorial, Dr. Christopher E. Ramsden, from the National Institutes of Health, said the findings would help doctors develop a “precision medicine” approach in which fish-oil treatment could be tailored to women who are most likely to benefit.

If the findings are confirmed in other populations, doctors could test to see who would mostly likely benefit from fish oil supplements. "The health care system is currently not geared for such," Bisgaard said. "But clearly this would be the future."

If you are considering taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy, be sure and check with your OB/GYN for a recommended dose.

All fish oils are not the same. Some brands of fish oil are of higher quality than others. A reputable fish oil manufacturer should be able to provide documentation of third-party lab results that show the purity levels of their fish oil, down to the particles per trillion level. Also, if the supplements smell or taste fishy, they shouldn’t. High quality fish oil supplements don’t. Avoid fish oils that have really strong or artificial flavors added to them because they are most likely trying to hide the fishy flavor of rancid oil.

Story sources: Denise Grady, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/fish-oil-asthma-pregnancy.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl

Gene Emery, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-asthma-fish-oil-idUSKBN14H1T3

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fish-oil/

 

Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/unborn-babies-are-hearing-you-loud-clear-8C11005474

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