A study conducted by medical researchers in Spain recently determined that unborn babies still in the womb can hear and react to sounds at a much earlier stage of development than originally thought.

The study, led by Dr. Marisa Lopez-Teijon of the Institut Marques in Barcelona, looked at 100 pregnant women between the 14th and 39th weeks of their pregnancies.

unborn baby

Using a special device called a Babypod that is inserted inside the woman, playing classical music by Bach, the researchers discovered that babies can hear sound as early as 16 weeks, a far cry from the generally accepted age of 26 weeks that scientists had originally declared.

Using the babies’ movement as an indication of their being able to hear the music, doctors noted that nearly half moved their heads and limbs, almost as if they were dancing.

Roughly a third of the unborn infants moved their mouths and tongues, as if they were singing, and nearly all of the babies ceased their movements when the music stopped, leading researchers to conclude that their movements were a reaction to the musical stimulus.

It has been known for some time that unborn babies can hear and respond to sound with movement, but this is the earliest stage of a pregnancy that such responses have been recorded.

“We are aware of and recognize the importance of talking to babies from the moment they are born to promote neurological stimulation. Now we have the amazing opportunity to do this much sooner, which is a huge advance,” researchers wrote.

Researchers are hopeful that their discovery could help doctors determine if a baby is deaf at a much earlier age, and say their method could improve the results of ultrasound scans in the future.

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