If you want to connect with your baby while they’re in the womb, it’s time to do the YMCA.
New research has found the classic Village People track stimulates the majority of foetuses, with scans revealing 90% showed signs of positive stimulation such as movement of the mouth and tongue when they were exposed to the song.
Similarly, classical music stimulated a reaction, with Mozart’s ‘A Little Night Music’ causing a reaction in 91% of foetuses. In contrast, just 60% of foetuses responded to the 2011 pop hit ‘Someone Like You’. Sorry, Adele.
Researchers from fertility clinic Institut Marquès set to investigate whether music has an impact on foetuses and if music genre can make a difference. ‘The Mozart Effect’, whereby parents play classical music to their unborn child, has been debated by medical professionals since the 1990s. While some research has linked classical music to improvements in development and children having a higher intellect, others maintain this is a myth without sufficient evidence.
The latest study exposed 300 foetuses to 15 different songs via a specially developed vaginal speaker. The songs were split into three different music genres: classic (which included Mozart and Beethoven), traditional (which ranged from Christmas carols to African drums) and pop-rock (which included the likes of Shakira and Queen). The foetuses, all between 18 and 38 weeks of gestation, were then monitored via ultrasound scans to capture their reactions.
The music genre causing a higher percentage of foetuses moving their mouth was classical music (84%), followed by traditional music (79%), and last but not least pop rock music (59%). But ‘YMCA’ and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ appeared to be two exceptions to the rule.
Once the foetuses were old enough to be able to stick out their tongue, classical music was again the most stimulating music genre with the highest percentage (35%), followed by traditional music (20%) and pop-rock (15%).
The study authors pointed out it is “very unusual” that those movements are spontaneously produced during the second and third trimester of the pregnancy, saying only 3 to 5% of foetuses exhibit these movements without a specific stimulus.
They said the results show “the importance of the early neurological stimulation, which can activate brain areas related to language and communication”.
“Music is a form of ancestral communication between humans, the communication through sounds, gestures and dances preceded the spoken language”, explained Dr López-Teijón, the director of Institut Marquès.
“The first language was more musical than verbal, and it still is; we still tend instinctively to speak in a high pitched voice, because we know that newborn perceive those better, and this way they understand that we want to communicate with them.”
The findings were presented at the recent International Association for Music and Medicine congress in Barcelona.