Monday December 17, 2018

Language Lessons For Your Baby May Start in Womb

The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech in the womb

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The findings if a new study by MIT researchers could offer a possible way to reduce the risk of autism. Pixabay
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  • A baby can distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born
  • The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech in the womb
  • The team examined 24 women, averaging roughly eight months pregnant

New York, July 18, 2017: Love to speak to your unborn baby? Well he or she can typically distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born, an interesting study has shown.

The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech, in the womb, although the voice is muffled.

In the study, the foetal heart rates changed when they heard the unfamiliar, rhythmically distinct language (Japanese) after having heard a passage of English speech, while their heart rates did not change when they were presented with a second passage of English instead of a passage in Japanese.

“The results suggest that language development may indeed start in utero. Foetuses are tuning their ears to the language they are going to acquire even before they are born, based on the speech signals available to them in utero,” said lead author Utako Minai, associate professor from the University of Kansas.

Also Read: Pregnancy seems Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors: Study

“Pre-natal sensitivity to the rhythmic properties of language may provide children with one of the very first building blocks in acquiring language,” Minai added.

For the study, published in the journal NeuroReport, the team examined 24 women, averaging roughly eight months pregnant.

Minai had a bilingual speaker make two recordings, one each in English and Japanese — argued to be rhythmically distinctive language, to be played in succession to the foetus.

“The intrauterine environment is a noisy place. The foetus is exposed to maternal gut sounds, her heartbeats and voice, as well as external sounds.

“Without exposure to sound, the auditory cortex wouldn’t get enough stimulation to develop properly. This study gives evidence that some of that development is linked to language,” explained Kathleen Gustafson, a research associate professor at the varsity. (IANS)

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Midwives Want To Reduce Maternal Mortality In South Sudan

South Sudan has added more than 800 midwives and nurses since 2010.

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A woman holding her baby in a nursery watches another newborn who is attached to a ventilator at Juba Teaching Hospital in Juba, April 3, 2013. South Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. VOA

More than 60 people graduated in Juba this week with diplomas in midwifery and nursing. Their goal? To reduce South Sudan’s high rate of maternal mortality.

Eight men were among the 66 graduates of the Kajo Keji Health Science Institute — an unusual occurrence in South Sudan, where midwifery is associated almost exclusively with women.

Samuel Ladu Morish, 26, says he felt he could no longer sit by and watch young women die because of childbirth.

chikungunya, maternal mortality
A woman sits inside a mosquito tent in the town of Abyei, Sudan. VOA

“A lot of mothers are dying so [for] me particularly it pains me. That is why I felt I have to do that course, to try my level best to stop maternal mortality rate in South Sudan,” Morish told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

Twenty-one-year-old Leju Henry, another male graduate, said he’s been asked many times why he decided to pursue a course in midwifery. Like Morish, Henry said he wants to help South Sudanese women, especially those who suffer complications in child labor.

“Most people think midwifery is a job for females only, but that is not the truth. … the definition of midwifery [is] that a midwife simply means someone who assists in child above all, but not necessarily means a fellow woman,” Henry said.

According to figures published by the World Health Organization in 2017, South Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world — 789 women per 100,000 live births.

south sudan's war, chikungunya, maternal mortality
In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, the winner of Miss World South Sudan 2017, Arual Longar, poses for a portrait at a shelter for street children in Juba, South Sudan. VOA

The rate has actually fallen in recent years, a trend that Makur Koriom, the undersecretary of South Sudan’s Ministry of Health, attributes to increased training of midwives and nurses.

Also Read: Sudan Suffers From A Chikungunya Outbreak

He says South Sudan has added more than 800 midwives and nurses since 2010.

“We believe that’s important, because to address the current health challenges, investing in human resource is very important. But, of course, investment at [the] secondary level without concurrent development at the community level also will not yield [good results], because most of the issues happen at the community level,” Koriom told VOA. (VOA)