Talking to Premature Babies can Help Language Development

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By Parismita Goswami | February 13, 2014 5:05 PM EST

A new study suggests that talking to premature babies while they are still in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) may benefit them in their language development later on. 

Researchers have claimed that premature babies if exposed to more talking from parents while in the hospital's intensive care, tend to score higher in their developmental tests in future.

Previous research has found that children born prematurely are at a higher risk of language problems later on, but whether talking to them early will help their later scores was not clear.

"This is certainly a remarkable, easy-to-implement and cost-effective intervention of informing moms of visiting their children in the intensive care unit," said Dr. Betty Vohr from Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, told Reuters UK. 

Vohr and colleagues stated that when a baby in mother's womb is exposed to mother's voice, he/she must stay in NICU, listening to noises from machines and monitors, when born prematurely.

"Researchers followed 36 babies born eight weeks premature and placed in the neonatal intensive care unit. They monitored the interaction of parents and other adults in the NICU and counted the number of words spoken to the newborns -- including singing. They also took note of when adults -- nurses or doctors -- were talking within earshot of the baby but not directly to him or her".

Researchers found that a premature baby of 32 weeks accounted for about 12 percent and 26 percent variation in children's language and thinking score respectively, while there was 20 percent difference in an 18 month's communication scores.

Overall, it was found that the amount of adult talk in the NICU was associated with higher thinking and language scores.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Talking to Premature Babies can Help Language Development
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