For my research essay, I will be conducting research on the fetal origins hypothesis. The fetal origins hypothesis is an idea that a baby starts to learn as soon as they are developed in their mother’s womb. I will be examining several academic and non scholarly sources on this theory, including TED talks. I have no prior opinions on this subject matter nor have I ever thought of this before this counterintuitive research assignment.
It is a common idea that babies begin learning once they are born, typically starting around 3 months of age. My objective is to dive deeper into the idea that babies learning starts in the months they spend developing inside their mom’s stomach. Babies pick up on things such as recognizing the sound of their mother’s voice, her food preference while pregnant, and all the traumatic stress she has while they are in the womb. Some people may not consider this learning though and find it hard to prove, that is what my research will be all about, finding both sides to the argument to shape my opinion on fetal origins being true or not.
- What We Learn Before We’re Born
Background: This TED talk introduces the fetal origins hypothesis by going into detail on what it means. The speaker talks about several studies that have been conducted to prove this theory. Studies that show how babies respond to their mom’s voice, what babies prefer to eat that matches up with their mom’s appetite when pregnant, and studies from mom’s who experienced 9/11 when pregnant and how their PTSD got passed down to their child. The speaker relies on her personal background with her child and the research she has done to write a book on the topic of fetal origins.
How I Plan To Use It: This TED talk was the source that first introduced me to this topic, I plan to rely back to this for much of my research. I believe it provides great examples using real life evidence. I can take the studies talked about in the speech and research them separately to further explore this idea of fetal origins.
- How Babies Know their Mother’s Voice- Even in the Womb
Background: In this article the author persuades the reader that babies who are developing auditory senses in the womb can hear and feel the vibrations of their mother’s voice. It goes on to talk about how important the mom’s voice is to her baby’s learning ability, their comfortability, and social bonding skills when they are born.
How I Plan To Use It: This article gave me insight to the study talked about in the TED talk that babies recognize their mom’s voice through vibrations in the womb. I plan to use it to further discuss how important it is that babies learn their moms voice while inside her stomach because they will need to know it when they are born in order to adapt to the world around them.
- When Do Babies Start Learning?
Background: This article spoke on both sides of the argument, agreeing that babies do learn in the womb, mostly relating to voices. It also says that the majority of learning really begins once the baby is born and at home from the hospital. The author explores the idea that this is truly when babies get the awareness of what is going on around them, the sense of touching objects, and start to develop emotions which are going to be most important to a baby’s learning process.
How I Plan On Using It: I like this article because it agrees with both sides of my topic and gives me information I can use for arguing for fetal origins hypothesis like learning begins in the womb through voices. But it also goes against it saying that the most crucial and majority of learning happens in the months that babies are alive and learning through what is around them.
- How a Child’s Food Preference Begins in the Womb
Background: The author in this article focuses on studies that were conducted to prove that babies get their eating habits during the time they spend in their mom’s stomach. A study about mother’s drinking carrot juice everyday for a period of time while pregnant and one group of women did not. When their babies were born they were fed carrots for the first time, and the mom’s who drank carrot juice child was happier to eat and continue eating the carrots. It talks about how food that moms eat definitely affects the baby in the womb and continues to do so once born.
How I Plan On Using It: This article will be a great asset in my research paper. This study was introduced to me in the TED talk I watched initially and will be great to further investigate to provide evidence for fetal origins and how babies get their eating habits early in the fetus.
- Pregnant 9/11 Survivors Transmitted Trauma to their Children
Background: Introduces a study that was mentioned in the TED talk that I watched on fetal origins that took 38 of the approximate 1,700 pregnant survivors of 9/11. Researchers conducted an experiment with these women where they took saliva samples of those who developed PTSD and then when their child turned one year old they tested their spit and found lower level of hormones indicating that the child has PTSD. This was typically transmitted to the child during the moms third trimester through a science called epigenetics, heritable changes in gene activity not due to changes in their DNA.
How I Plan To Use This: This article will be a nice addition to my evidence using real life studies that have proven that things as serious as PTSD can be transmitted to an unborn child. PTSD will have a huge impact on the babies learning in and outside of the womb.
GossipGirl, I’m very impressed with your manifesto approach to this post. Your statement of impartiality is persuasive. You’re embarking on this adventure with just the right attitude. I particularly like your declaration that: “I will be conducting research on the fetal origins hypothesis. I have no prior opinions on this subject matter nor have I ever thought of this before this counterintuitive research assignment.” That, GossipGirl, is the right place to start.
As impressed as I was with that introduction, I was even more impressed when you described your relationship with the TED talk as on of opportunity, not conclusion: “I can take the studies talked about in the speech and research them separately to further explore this idea of fetal origins.”
Again, my congratulations on that openness to research and information. I’m delighted that you haven’t said you plan to make arguments to prove your thesis. At this point, you shouldn’t have one.
That said, your New York Post and “Early Childhood Education” sources have little to offer beyond whetting your appetite for information. They should, if they meant to be helpful, provide links for you to the studies they tangentially reference, but neither does. That’s a dead giveaway to avoid their conclusions. You’ve no idea how well they understood the original material and no way to check their credibility.
On the other hand, while the Guardian articles are not worth a whole lot as academic sources, they both point you to the original material. They welcome being fact-checked. One provides direct links to the original studies. The other names the researchers well enough you should be able to follow the clues to the source. I’m especially impressed by the 9/11 article that contains complete bibliographic references for the works it cites.
Follow those links back to the studies. They will undoubtedly contain lots of inscrutable language and probably statistical formulas well beyond my understanding (perhaps yours too), but they’ll also contain surprises you can follow up.
I’m very pleased with your work so far. Keep your eyes open; remain available to inspiration and revelation.