Babies show signs of crying in the womb

New York (Reuters) - An infant's first cry may occur not in the delivery room, but in the womb, researchers have found. With the help of video-recorded ultrasound images, the investigators found that a group of third-trimester fetuses showed evidence of "crying behaviour" in response to a low-decibel noise played on the mother's abdomen. Fetuses showed a "startle" response to the noise, along with deep inhalations and exhalations, an open mouth and "quivering" chin - all signs of crying. The behaviour, seen in 11 fetuses, began as early as the 28th week of pregnancy.

It was by chance that the researchers made their observations, said study co-author Dr. Ed Mitchell of the University in Auckland in New Zealand. The ultra-sounds and noise stimulation were performed as part of research looking into the effects of maternal smoking and cocaine use during pregnancy. At first, the researchers thought the fetal responses they saw might be seizures, Mitchell told Reuters Health. But when they took a closer look at the video recordings, they realised the fetuses' behaviour was analogous to an infant's crying.

  It's not surprising that fetuses this age would show such behaviour, Mitchell said, since premature infants born even earlier than the 28th week of pregnancy can cry. "But it had never been observed or recognised for what it is," he said of the fetal crying. The researchers first noted the crying behaviour in an ultrasound of a 33-week-old fetus. When the stimulus - noise and vibration akin to a rumbling stomach - was placed on the mother's abdomen, the fetus "startled" and turned its head. That was followed by heavy breaths, jaw opening and chin quivering, according to the researchers. Subsequent ultrasounds found similar behaviour in 10 fetuses, all 28 weeks old and up, that lasted for 15 to 20 seconds after the noise exposure.

The findings have developmental implications, according to Mitchell and his colleagues. To "cry", they note, the fetus would need not only the movement capability, but also the necessary sensory and brain development to process the offending sound and recognise it as something negative. Mitchell and his colleagues report their findings in the Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition. - The Epoch Times

Norway bans babies from most cinemas, fearing exposure to violence

Norway has barred babies from attending movies restricted to people above the age of seven, ending special infant-friendly showings meant to attract parents to cinemas.   The authorities ruled it was too risky to expose even the youngest to violence, sex or swearing. "Babies react to sounds and they could be frightened and traumatised," said an official at the Norwegian Media Authority. - National Post

Noise as election issue

Have you ever thought of putting a political candidate on the spot at election time by asking him/her to make the prevention and abatement of noise an issue? Last spring Michael Kissinger wrote an article in The Vancouver Courier about the looming provincial election on May 17. Just one single sentence from it says a lot: "And while the results aren't always pretty, or easy on the ears for that matter, the role of music in this election is louder than ever."

Obviously, the role of the loud music is to trigger an adrenaline flow and reduce rational thinking. But we strongly suspect that the vying candidates themselves rather enjoy that racket. Could it then be followed that their own adrenaline flow impairs their rational thinking, albeit temporarily? Could that be one of the reasons for which it seems so difficult to get any one of them to seriously do something for better noise control?

  On Nov. 19 there will be municipal elections in British Columbia, which should be particularly interesting in Vancouver, where civic parties metamorphose or split, and numerous independents run for office. We urge all our members and supporters to attend candidates' meetings and ask what they would do to prevent or at least reduce noise from boom-cars, chopper motorbikes, low-flying aircraft, to name just a few. If they think that noise is not a sufficiently important issue, then ask why they play the music so loud during election time if noise has no effects.

Quiet Time - For the convenience of all guests, we request that noise levels be kept to a minimum after 11:00 p.m. (BestWestern Motel, Sidney, B.C.)

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Fall 2005
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