Babies in the womb show evidence of learning by their 34th week, three weeks earlier than previously thought, new research has found.Since the third trimester is from the 28th week to 42 weeks, this is well back into the middle of the third trimester.
Krueger had the women repeat three times out loud a set 15-second nursery rhyme, and do it twice a day for six weeks. The selected rhyme was previously unknown to the mothers.So, babies can learn at this point. They also can recognize novel sounds as well.
The fetuses’ heart rates were monitored at 32, 33 and 34 weeks as they listened to a recording of a female stranger recite the rhyme.
By the 34th week, Krueger said, the heart rates of the tested fetuses showed an overall slight decline while listening to the recording, compared with a control group of fetuses whose heart rates slightly accelerated while listening to a recording of a new nursery rhyme.
Krueger said a decelerating heartbeat has long been associated with a fetus recognizing something familiar, compared with an accelerated heartbeat response to a novel sound or experience.
"We cautiously concluded, because it was not statistically significant, that learning emerged by 34 weeks gestational age," she said.
Previous research has already shown that babies recognize their mother's voices, but I do not remember when in pregnancy that starts. Obviously at least by the third semester.
One implication has to do with abortion. First, the article has "baby" in both the title and five times in the article; fetus was also used 5 times.
Second, what constitutes being human?
We already know that babies born in the 3rd trimester are viable, and we have known that for decades. Once born, no one has a problem saying that the baby is human and deserve protection and rights. Most people who call themselves pro-life have no problem with saying that the fertilized egg is alive, human in some way, and deserves to be accorded some protection.
Learning is one of the things that make us human.