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Medical Interpersonal communication with a fetus

  1. Jan 16, 2007 #1
    Has any experiment been conducted that shows a human fetus (or even an embryo) having the ability to express itself personally (an experience which expectant mothers, twins or obstetricians might claim subjectively)? If not, what test might suffice to establish our communication with the unborn?
     
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  3. Jan 17, 2007 #2

    Ouabache

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    Check out this edited out questionable for profit site. They use sound, movement, pressure, vibration and light to communicate/stimulate a developing fetus. It's basis is the work of a clinical psychologist Dr. Beatriz Manrique.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2007
  4. Jan 17, 2007 #3
    And I thought Head Start gave the kid an "ace in the hole."

    Do studies like this say anything about the ethics of late term abortion?
     
  5. Jan 17, 2007 #4

    Evo

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    I'm sorry that is a website selling these "products" to gullible parents. Please link actual research that is not linked to a for profit organization.
     
  6. Jan 17, 2007 #5

    Ouabache

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    We're trying to gain some insight to an interesting concept; "prenatal communication". As the reference in my first post mentions, it's based on the research of Dr. Beatriz Manrique. On this reference, her work is highlighted.

    In discussing prenatal stimulation...
    "...Testing revealed that the stimulated babies have been consistently superior in visual, auditory, language, memory, and motor development compared to those who did not have the program of prenatal enrichment..."

    Part of this work was published in, "Pre- & Perinatal Psychology Journal", Winter issue, 1989.

    One of her accolades include, 1995 recipient of the Thomas R. Verny Award for Outstanding Contributions to Pre- and Perinatal Psychology.

    I recommend getting a copy of the original publications and see. If you use a university library with Interlibrary Loan priviledges, you should have access to most of the scientific literature out there.

    Is it ironic that, in this publication at the University of Michigan, they quote from the same website found questionable? PF sets a higher standard than our universities.. I like that.:smile:
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2007
  7. Jan 18, 2007 #6

    Moonbear

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    If you read that "publication" carefully, you'd see that it's a research proposal, not a conclusive study. It does not say what that site we deleted claims. Indeed, the proposal cited states things such as:
    and

    This is also consistent with what is stated in your other link of the work of Dr. Beatriz de Guzman Manrique, which says:
    and

    One cannot conclude from this that there is a direct effect of in utero stimulation on the fetus/infant development. The intervention may be effective based on the preparation of the mother for parenthood along with improved nutrition during pregnancy.

    It seems to make intuitive sense as well that a mother who makes the added effort of providing in utero stimulation with the expectation it will be beneficial is one who is going to be keenly interested in her infant's/child's development throughout life, and provide a very nurturing environment for that child. It really seems to be a reflection of the interest of the parents in parenting.

    One reason it makes little sense to me that external stimulation, such as talking, would be beneficial to a fetus in utero is that the fetus is fairly well insulated within the uterus, fetal membranes and amniotic fluid. Even if auditory pathways were intact, how distinguishable would sounds be after passing through the body wall of the mother, the uterus, fetal membranes and fluid? They'd be greatly distorted from what one would hear out in air. The same for the cushioning effect for things like massage. Perhaps there could be some perception in very late pregnancy (the last month) when there isn't much room left surrounding the developing fetus so that pressure on the abdomen of the woman would be transmitted to the fetus, but would that be anything different than bumping into things or attempting to lie on one's side to sleep and having your abdomen pressing into the mattress?
     
  8. Jan 18, 2007 #7
    On the National Geographic channel one time I was watching some of "In the Womb" and they stated that the child can hear the mothers voice very well, and the fathers voice somewhat. They concluded that one of the reasons for childrens greater attachment to mothers than fathers, in general, is that they recognize the voice of the mother. Of course this is just television and I have no idea what research it is based on.
    -scott
     
  9. Jan 19, 2007 #8

    Ouabache

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    Actually, the Han work is listed as a full paper, in their department publications page; with a parenthetical note that it is a working paper. Presumably meaning there will be more added to it. Han's quote referencing the questionable website is on page 2, first paragraph.

    I don't claim to hold with the opinions or other material on the questionable site, just the part referencing Dr. Manrique's work. She was not the first to look into prenatal communication, her mentor Dr Rene Van de Carr, a retired OB-GYN, has been teaching and writing about these concepts for many years, based on his experience in his practise. He along with his wife, psychologist Kristin Van de Carr, Ph.D., and colleague Marc Lehrer, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist, collaborated on their work with prenatal stimulation. Their work was published in Volume 3(2) of JOPPPAH (The Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Health) in 1988.

    This reference, excerpted from a book by Thomas R. Verny M.D. and Pamela Weintraub, discuss prenatal lines of communication. They break down this 'prenatal dialogue' into molecular, sensory and intuitive communication. I'll touch upon their first two. At the molecular level, many of the mother's hormones, having to do with emotion, pass through the umbilical cord and placenta. It would be no surprise that a developing baby, senses stress or pleasure based on the levels of hormones their mother was producing. In response to a sensory input such as music, the fetus can react with pleasure (kicking energetically but gently) or displeasure (series of painful kicks to the mother) depending on the quality of the music. There would be interaction between both these lines of communication. Since the mother is also hearing this music; if she is enjoying it, her body is responding with pleasure hormones and if the music is noisy and the mother becomes anxious, she releases stress hormones.

    I feel the book is still open on this subject, however the research up to this point, is quite intriguing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2007
  10. Jan 19, 2007 #9
    There have been several studies on the subject of what a fetus can hear.

    This finding is the result of a study on 60 fetuses in China. Half the fetuses -- who were between 38 and 40 weeks of gestation -- were played a two-minute poem recorded by their mothers; the other half were played the same poem read by other woman. When a tape recorder playing the mother's voice was held to the her abdomen, her fetus' heart rate increased throughout the entire recording and remained high for another two minutes. When another woman's voice was played at the same volume, the heart rate decreased and remained lower throughout and after the recording. In both groups, these changes began about 20 seconds into the recording.
    http://www.webmd.com/content/article/64/72506.htm

    Researchers in Belfast have demonstrated that reactive listening begins at 16 weeks g.a., two months sooner than other types of measurements indicated. Working with 400 fetuses, researchers in Belfast beamed a pure pulse sound at 250-500 Hz and found behavioral responses at 16 weeks g.a.--clearly seen via ultrasound (Shahidullah and Hepper, 1992). This is especially significant because reactive listening begins eight weeks before the ear is structurally complete at about 24 weeks.
    http://www.birthpsychology.com/lifebefore/fetalsense.html

    Other published studies..

    Fetal Reactivity to Tonal Stimulation: Journal of Genetic Psychology
    Auditory Behavior in the Human Neonate:Journal of Auditory Research
    Auditory Evoked Responses Obtained From the Scalp Electroencephalogram of the Full Term Neonate During Sleep:Pediatrics Foundation
    Observations of Neonatal Behavior in Response to Auditory Stimuli:International Congress of Psychosomatic Obstetrics

    All of these conclude that yes, indeed a baby hears various sounds, and reacts to them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2007
  11. Jan 19, 2007 #10

    Evo

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    But a physical response to sound is just that. People are then taking this automated response and literally "inventing" explanations based on what they want to believe. The fetus always hears his mother's voice, so it's logical it might recognize the sound, but to think that the fetus would have any understanding of what was being said is ridiculous. The mother can babble absolute nonsense it won't make any difference.

    And as for the quality of music, again, if the mother hates classical music and prefers heavy metal, what happens then? Supposedly fetuses prefer Brahms, if the mother hates Brahms, she's producing stress hormones. Does this make the fetus respond positively or negatively or does it cause emotional problems that will be with the child for the rest of it's life? :rolleyes:

    What Moonbear said sounds like the most realistic answer, it's the higher level of care and interaction with the baby AFTER it's born that matters. If a mother/father is so over the top on trying to make their baby superior to other babies by buying into this stuff, they will probably continue this behavior after the kid is born.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2007
  12. Jan 19, 2007 #11
    There is even a few studies about fetal deafness, sugesting loud sounds {music, workplace} may harm there ears, nearly as easy as it harms ours.
     
  13. Jan 19, 2007 #12

    Moonbear

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    That doesn't make it a peer-reviewed publication. "Working paper" there seems to be a list of proposals. In that list, "full paper" means it's not just an abstract, which it isn't, but it comes across as a thesis proposal. The author of that "paper" is listed as a doctoral candidate.
     
  14. Jan 19, 2007 #13

    Moonbear

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    Note that that is a full-term fetus, so it is not surprising that auditory pathways are fully developed.

    I can't locate that paper, but what is reported here seems contradictory to another paper of theirs.

    Hepper PG, Shahidullah BS. Development of fetal hearing. Arch Dis Child. 1994 Sep;71(2):F81-7.

    Abstract:
    However, while they seem to be concluding that the fetus is "hearing" the sound, there's no way to know that the reaction isn't a reflexive response to the vibrations, especially when the auditory pathway is not yet fully developed. To call it "listening" implies purpose, which is not necessarily the case.

    With regard to claims that fetuses can discriminate between sounds of mother vs another woman, this other study by the same group more clearly shows that this is only something that begins to occur late in gestation (in this case, 35 weeks, but not 27). Just for reference, at 24 weeks, a fetus is barely viable (if premature delivery occurs at this gestational age, there is a slim chance of survival). Between 26-27 weeks, the chance of survival increases much more, so even at an age when a premature baby could be born and survive, the ability to discriminate among different sound frequencies does not yet exist.

    Shahidullah S, Hepper PG.Frequency discrimination by the fetus.Early Hum Dev. 1994 Jan;36(1):13-26.
    Abstract:

    First, let's be careful not to confuse the terms fetus and baby. We don't dispute that a baby hears and reacts to sounds. It makes sense that if a baby can hear sounds post-natally, then a full-term fetus would also have those systems developed. It's less clear whether there is any ability to hear and react earlier in gestation that is directly related to hearing and not a reflexive response to the vibrations detected from low frequency sounds.

    Nonetheless, reacting to a sound does not mean that such a stimulus is having any positive effect on development. That is where the "questionable" sites are overreaching on conclusions that cannot be drawn from the data.
     
  15. Jan 19, 2007 #14
    Yes, I couldn't find any conclusive evidence that it improves learning abilities, motor or social skills. The individual antidotal articles I read, are just that. I even called a neonatal specialist friend of mine, he could not point me to any studies that showed any conclusive results. He believes there are too many environmental and hormonal aspects to consider, to make it a feasible research study{peer reviwed}.
    Nor did I find any reason not to talk/read or play music at normal listening levels. Most expecting mothers do it anyways, to some degree.
     
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