Babies Start Acquiring Language in the Womb

If you and your partner are expecting a new addition to the family, now might be a good time to clean up your language. New research suggests that babies begin to pick up language from within the womb.

Studies in the past have shown that babies of just a few months in age can distinguish between language sounds. But this new research suggests that at just a few hours old, babies' brains can differentiate between the sounds of a mother's voice and that of one they haven't been exposed to. Researcher Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University in Washington explains:

"This is the first study that shows fetuses learn prenatally about the particular speech sounds of a mother's language. This study moves the measurable result of experience with speech sounds from six months of age to before birth."

The researchers measured the attention of young babies by having them suck on an electronically-monitored pacifier. When exposed to their mother's voice, the babies were more attentive than when exposed to a stranger's. In turn that suggests that the babies must be hearing and, on some level, engaging with the voices they hear often while still in the womb.

The team speculates—and this really is pure speculation—that such activity could begin as early as 30 weeks into development. While it's unclear quite how detailed the hearing and perception is within the womb, one thing's for sure—mommy and daddy better stop cursing before junior arrives. [Medical Express vai Geekosysytem]

Image by Deng'ed under Creative Commons license