Pregnancy and Prenatal Development

This website will be under development throughout 2018. Check in periodically for updates.

In the meantime, I have provided below a collection of research articles that show how special you are, pregnant mum, to baby. And, how amazing baby’s brain is, even on the inside!

Newborn and Fetal Response to Maternal Voice
Abstract: “The intrauterine environment presents a rich array of sensory stimuli to which the fetus responds. The maternal voice is perhaps the most salient of all auditory stimuli. The following experiments examined the movement response of the fetus and newborn to its mother’s voice and a strange female’s voice and to voices speaking normally and speaking ‘motherese’. Newborns (2-4 days of age) discriminated, as measured by the number of movements exhibited to the presentation of the stimuli, between their mother’s voice and a stranger’s voice and between normal speech and ‘motherese’, in both cases the former being preferred. Fetuses, 36 weeks of gestational age, evidenced no ability to discriminate between their mother’s and a stranger’s voice played to them via a loudspeaker on the abdomen but did discriminate between their mother’s voice when played to them by a loudspeaker on the abdomen and the mother’s voice produced by her speaking. The results are further evidence of the ability of the fetus to learn prenatally and indicate a possible role for prenatal experience of voices in subsequent language development and attachment.”

Unique Salience of Maternal Breast Odors for Newborn Infants

Abstract: “Human infants are particularly responsive to olfactory cues emanating from their mother’s nipple/areola region. Beginning within minutes after birth, maternal breast odors elicit preferential head orientation by neonates and help guide them to the nipple. Such odors also influence babies’ general motor activity and arousal, which may contribute further to successful nipple localization and sucking. The role of maternal olfactory signals in the mediation of early breast-feeding is functionally analogous to that of nipple-search pheromone as described in nonhuman mammals. To some extent, the chemical profile of breast secretions overlaps with that of amniotic fluid. Therefore, early postnatal attraction to odors associated with the nipple/areola may reflect prenatal exposure and familiarization. Although newborns are generally attracted to breast odors produced by lactating women, breast-fed infants rapidly learn their mother’s characteristic olfactory signature while sucking at her breasts and can subsequently recognize her by that unique scent alone. Early odor-based recognition may be an important factor in the development of the infant–mother bond.”

Newborn Infants Can Organize the Auditory World

Abstract: “The perceptual world of neonates is usually regarded as not yet being fully organized in terms of objects in the same way as it is for adults. Using a recently developed method based on electric brain responses, we found that, similarly to adults, newborn infants segregate concurrent streams of sound, allowing them to organize the auditory input according to the existing sound source. The segregation of concurrent sound streams is a crucial step in the path leading to the identification of objects in the environment. Its presence in newborn infants shows that the basic abilities required for the development of conceptual objects are available already at the time of birth.”

Two-Day-Olds Prefer Their Native language

Abstract: “Newborn infants whose mothers were monolingual speakers of Spanish or English were tested with audio recordings of femole strangers speoking either Spanish or
English. lnfant sucking controlled the presentation of auditory stimuli. Infants activated recordings of their native language for longer periods than the foreign language.”