Can we actually hear before we’re born?

06 July 2008

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Question

Can we actually hear before we’re born?

Answer

Kat - I think the evidence suggests that you probably can. Obviously it's not hearing as in the sense that born people hear because that's all to do with air pressure. I think there's a lot of evidence that babies can really sense the vibrations in the fluid that's around their ears.

Chris - The US Navy did a study about five years ago where they took lambs that were developing inside the mother and they put a miniature microphone inside the ear of the developing lamb and another one in the fluid surrounding the lamb and then a microphone outside the sheep. They played sounds using a speaker and recorded from those three sites. They played back the sounds they recorded to a group of volunteers and asked them how much they could interpret from what they'd just heard from these recordings. They understood 100% of what was said using the microphone outside the sheep's body, they understood about 75% of what they recorded using the microphone sitting in the fluid around the baby inside the sheep and they understood a good 30-40% of what was being said from the recordings in the ear of the baby sheep. What this suggests to you is you should be very careful when you're talking around a pregnant woman because the baby may well be eavesdropping. Kat - No swearing!

Judith from Northampton got in touch to say: "My friends used to play the violin while I was pregnant, most notably Vivaldi or Bach. Once the baby was born whenever it heard a piece of music by Vivaldi or Bach it used to instantly fall asleep whilst other music would have no effect or might even make it cry. The baby must have recognised the music from when it was in the womb."

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