Revealed: the real reason why babies kick in the womb
According to a study, babies kicking in the womb are mapping out their body and environment.
The recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that fetal kicks in the third trimester may enable babies to make a map of their own bodies, as reported by Science Daily.
Researchers in the UK measured the brain activity of 19 infants and discovered that brainwaves corresponding to limb movements during sleep might help the babies form critical consciousness of their bodies and immediate environment.
“As the movements we observed occur during sleep, our results support other studies which indicate that sleep should be protected in newborns."
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Study author Lorenzo Fabrizi from University College London said, "Spontaneous movement and consequent feedback from the environment during the early developmental period are known to be necessary for proper brain mapping in animals such as rats. Here we showed that this may be true in humans too."
“We think the findings have implications for providing the optimal hospital environment for infants born early, so that they receive appropriate sensory input," added neuroscientist Kimberley Whitehead, who worked on the University College London study.
"For example, it is already routine for infants to be ‘nested’ in their cots – this allows them to ‘feel’ a surface when their limbs kick, as if they were still inside the womb."
Whitehead continued, “As the movements we observed occur during sleep, our results support other studies which indicate that sleep should be protected in newborns, for example by minimising the disturbance associated with necessary medical procedures.”
For the study, Fabrizi's team used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the babies’ brainwaves.
Those brainwaves were recorded consistently during the sleep of 19 infants aged two days on average.
These newborns were somewhere in the range of 31 and 42 weeks corrected gestational age when examined.
This is not the only study to analyze babies' kicks. Published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the study suggests that fetal kicks help shape an infant's muscles, bones, and joints.