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You are here: Home > Baby > Baby Development

New Study Shows Infants Learn Language Before Birth

by Katlyn Joy | January 22, 2013 3:00 AM
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A new study out of Pacific Lutheran University and published in Acta Paediatrica in December states that babies in utero pick up on the distinctive sounds of their native tongue.

The study led by psychology professor Christine Moon demonstrates that infants at just one hour respond with heightened interest to the vowels of a language not spoken by the mother of the infant.

This changes the previously held belief that infants became aware of vowels and consonants of their own language around six months of age. Moon stated that the research builds on the thirty years of research revealing that babies learn while in utero from their mother's voice. Now we have insight that one thing being learned is specifically about the native language as spoken by the unborn child's mother.

For the study, Moon tested infants shortly after birth. The two locations of the research were Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden and Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.

Infants heard either Swedish or English vowels and could control how many times they heard the vowels by sucking on a pacifier which was connected to a computer.

What that should mean to expectant mothers and new mothers alike is that the advice to talk to your baby, before and after birth, whether you are reading children's books aloud, narrating your day or even reading a recipe aloud, is vital for your child's development and learning.


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