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NEW TEST MEASURES BABY BRAINWAVES

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by CG News Desk

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Is it beneficial to play Mozart to your baby in the womb? A new test which measures the electrical signals in the fetal brain could eventually answer that question but, more importantly, it could also help doctors to protect babies from damage sustained in utero. Researchers at the University of Arkansas recently used a technique called magnetoencephalography to measure the activity of the fetal brain. The test, relying on the principle that even the smallest electrical impulses of the brain create a magnetic field, measured the tiny fluctuations in these magnetic fields (using a fiberoptic cable cooled by liquid helium). The nerve activity showed that fetuses could even respond to a bright light shining through their mothers’ abdomens. Four out of 10 fetuses had measurable brain responses to the light; reaction times were even better in the more highly developed fetuses. The scientists did speculate that the six non-responses could have been from fetuses who were either asleep or facing in another direction. The practical benefits of the scanning system could lessen or even prevent brain disabilities caused by lack of nutrients from the placenta, including cerebral palsy. If “placental starving” is suspected, doctors may, in some cases, decide to deliver the baby prematurely, even though premature babies face a whole other set of risks. Such a technique could finally help scientists learn more about how the fetal brain develops.


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