A new study suggests that babies are making important neural connections in their developing brains when they toss and turn in with baby kicks utero, and that they’re not just looking to stretch, but to create internal maps of their bodies.
Brains are fascinating, and more and more research about developing brains continues to awe and amaze parents as they learn about their babies’ growth. A new study in Scientific Reports suggests that when mamas are feeling those jabs and baby kicks, babies are actually creating neural connections that are mapping their bodies!
The researchers say that baby kicks and jabbing in utero is actually the trigger to sparking connections in their brains and they are mapping their body systems in the process. The authors of the study say that the fetal movements are what lets a baby create basic brain network in utero, so that it can see how body part movement and touch are connected.
Once a baby is born, the kicks and jabs are typically traded for the experiences that come with parents touching and cuddling them, and the input that gives a baby’s developing brain. Kimberley Whitehead and Lorenzo Fabrizi are with the University College London and are the study’s authors. They said that though the study was small, they hope that the findings will have a positive implication for clinical care for babies–particularly preemies- in how to create womb-like environments for them outside the womb.
They said that in the 19 newborns they studied, they found the evidence that brain building is happening in utero and they lay out the pathways the baby experiences life after birth. They are quick to emphasize that if a baby doesn’t move around a lot, that doesn’t mean they are not also building neural connections, but that more research can be done to see the differences in things like primitive retained reflexes and sensory integration when babies are born based on their fetal movements.
So if baby is keeping you up all night having a 3 am party in your womb? Consider that your baby’s brain just doing its job!
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