Fetus Stimulation

When lecturing on August 27, we learned of an experiment dealing with a kind of fetus stimulation. In this experiment, a group of mothers read Dr. Seuss to their fetus aloud in the last six weeks of their pregnancy, while another group did not. The result was the babies who had Dr. Seuss read to them in the womb gave more of a response when hearing Dr. Seuss, while the babies who didn’t have Dr. Seuss read to them did not.

Because of the experiment above, in addition to studies showing better visual, hearing, and IQ development because of stimulation, we know fetal stimulation works (http://babiesandpregnancy.com).  However, we must discuss when the fetus can actually learn while in the womb and if it is possible to over-stimulate the baby, causing it more harm than good.

 We learn from Laura Berk’s Child Development Book (8th Edition) that at 20 weeks a fetus can respond to sound, and from weeks 29, a fetus will begin to distinguish between sounds- a man’s and a woman’s voice, different simple melodies, and so on.  So, it would be reasonable to suggest that reading to your fetus won’t really have any effect until about the fifth month of pregnancy.  It has also been studied that when doing audio stimulation, you must do it in an organized way, or the baby will think it is just meaningless information, minimizing the effect of the stimulation (http://babiesandpregnancy.com).

As seen above, the consequences of prenatal stimulation can be very positive.  But upon further investigation, we also learn that over-stimulationcan occur and have some negative consequences, and some theorize no consequences at all.  Some say that because a child’s brain has a high plasticity and is not very cemented, it is likely that the early stimulation will not have a far reaching effect on the cognitive development of the child, but can still be good for sensory development.   Others claim that because stimulation builds the connections between brain neurons, babies actually do have higher IQ’s and have better cognitive development.  Yet this theory is hard to prove because we can’t test a fetus’s IQ, so the argument may continue.  However, what we do know is that over -stimulation can greatly impair a fetus.  From weeks 20 to about week 32, most of a fetus’s ear has developed, but still has some developing to do, and is succeptible to damage.  This means that if a parent engages in too much reading or other forms of audio fetal stimulation, a fetus’s hearing can be permanantly damaged (Berk, Child Development 8th edition).  Mothers who feel their unborn child turn away or act uncomfortable during attempted stimulation should stop and evaluate if they are giving their baby an overdose.

Just like many things, you need to stay within reason.  Yes prenatal development through reading, music, and even vibrations and rubbing can be beneficial to a fetus, but if you do too much of it, it could be detrimental to the baby’s development (http://babiesandpregnancy.com).  Just remember that you can’t stimulate a baby to learn calculus in the womb, and probably the best thing a parent can do in helping a child develop in all ways is to be a good, active and supportive parent througout the child’s life.

Mike Angerbauer

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~ by Mike Angerbauer on September 4, 2009.

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