News Roundup January 14

Last 10 Weeks of Pregnancy Holds Clues to Language Development A recent study showed that the newborn has the capacity to learn and remember elementary sounds of their language from their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.  At 30 weeks of gestational age the sensory and brain mechanisms for hearing are developed and the fetus begins listening to the mother’s voice. The newborn’s ability to differentiate between vowels from their mother’s language and vowels from a foreign language was determined by the length time they sucked on a pacifier; the newborns sucked longer for the vowels of a foreign language. It seems at birth babies have an interest in the novel. The research was led by Christine Moon at Pacific Luthern University and was co-authored by Hugo Lagercrantz and Dr. Patricia Kuhl. In a discussion about the research findings, Dr. Kuhl points out that “infants are the best learners on the planet and while understanding a child’s brain capacity is important for science, it’s even more important for the children. We can’t waste early curiosity. The fact that the infants can learn the vowels in utero means they are putting some pretty sophisticated brain centers to work, even before birth.” Click here to read more about this fascinating new study: Research in Learning Speech Sounds Prenatally

Early Asthma Risk Linked to Pollen Exposure in Pregnancy According to a new study from Umea University in Sweden, the risk of early asthma in children increases with the level of pollen exposure during the last twelve weeks of pregnancy. There are a variety of possible reasons for the link including maternal allergic reactions and asthma that affects child’s immune system and the fact that severe maternal allergic reactions may cause premature birth which itself is associated with respiratory complications. Click here to read more about the study: pollen exposure during pregnancy

Infant Behavior and TV Exposure A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by nutritionist Margaret E. Bentley, examines the interplay of maternal and infant risk factors that influence TV behavior across infancy. The research appears in the Jan. 7 issue of the journal Pediatrics. The researchers found that mothers, especially those who are obese, are more likely to use television to soothe or entertain fussy or active babies.  In addition to long hours of television exposure, feeding in front of the television meant mothers missed cues that the babies were full. This information can be useful in cutting down on inactivity and obesity in children by helping mothers find different strategies to soothe and entertain their babies. More information on this study can be found here: Fussy Babies Spend More Time in Front of TV

This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Karen Burch, M.A.



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