The amazing study at the Institut Marques in Barcelona has led researchers to rule out foetal deafness, and allows parents to ensure foetal well-being.
The music is seen to stimulate part of the brain involved in communication and on hearing the sound the foetus responds with movements similar to vocalisation – the step prior to singing and speaking.
Using a device called the Babypod, developed for the study, it is suggested that babies can begin to learn communication skills before they are born.
The researchers noted: “We are aware of and recognise the importance of talking to babies from the moment they are born to promote neurological stimulation.
“Now we have the amazing opportunity to do this much sooner, which is a huge advance.”The ground-breaking research was carried out with pregnant women between the 14th and 39th week of pregnancy.
The team used ultrasound to observe reactions of the unborn child after hearing music.For the first time scientists have found that a foetus is able to hear at just 16 weeks gestation and even respond by moving their mouths and tongues.
Until now it was accepted that an unborn baby’s ear didn’t fully develop until around 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Experts previously believed that an unborn baby could not hear until week 18 at the earliest – but more commonly nearer 26 weeks.
However a fascinating study led by Dr Marisa Lopez-Teijon reveals that a foetus responds to music transmitted intra-vaginally by moving their mouth and tongue “as if they were trying to speak or sing”.