True or False?

–  Psychosocial development is a continuous process from about the twelfth week of intrauterine life through the preschool years.

–  There is a high correlation between intrauterine fetal activity and a newborn’s level of activity.

–  Babies of stressed mothers have higher levels of fetal activity and exhibit more problems after birth than babies of nonstressed mothers.

–  Mothers with a fetus who becomes very active at bedtime should place a flashlight under the covers and turn it on.

–  A fetus prefers Mozart to the Rolling Stones.

–  Fetuses of all cultures really like the music of Boy George.

–  A newborn responds to its mother’s voice.

Surprisingly enough, recent research indicates that all the preceding statements are true.  It was once thought that before birth the fetus could not experience sensation, emotion, learning, personality, or thought.  New ways of studying fetal behavior, however, have revolutionized understanding of the prenatal period.  Advancements in ultrasound, intrauterine photography, and measurement of fetal movement and heart rate, as well as the survival of infants at earlier and earlier stages of development in neonatal intensive care nurseries, have provided valuable insight into prenatal behavior.  Information is gained through ultrasound; by recording changes in fetal movement, heart rate, and breathing motions; and by noting changes in swallowing and sucking behaviors in response to stimulation.  Noting the responses of infants as early as twenty-four weeks’ gestation in an NICU has provided information on the behavior of the fetus during the last sixteen weeks of intrauterine development.

There is much evidence that a fetus responds to various types of stimulation.  For instance, the fetus has been observed to react to invasive obstetrical procedures.  During amniocentesis, doctors have noted the fetus to respond by drawing away from the needle, decreasing breathing motions, and exhibiting an erratic heartbeat.  Also, during intrauterine blood transfusions, doctors have noted signs of fetal distress, including vigorous body and breathing movements and increased fetal cortisol and B-endorphin levels, an apparent sign of hormonal stress response to needle invasion.

– Human Behavior in the Social Environment – A Multidimensional Perspective by Jose B. Ashford, Craig Winston LeCroy, Kathy L. Lortie

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~ by cmb0414 on August 15, 2010.

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