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Newborns' Cries Reflect Parents' Language

Differences in Newborn Cry Patterns of German, French Babies Evident Very Early, Study Shows
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Newborn Cry Study: Second Opinion

The study suggests that the influence of the surrounding language on babies happens earlier than experts previously have thought, says Diane Paul, PhD, a speech-language pathologist and director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Rockville, Md, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

''The capacity to learn language is inborn, and it's shaped by what [infants] hear in the environment," she says. The new study is saying that ''even before birth, the differences between languages are being heard, the babies are hearing the different melodic patterns, and they are born with the pattern that is more closely related to the melodic pattern they have heard in the language around them."

Newborns and Language: Message for Parents-to-Be

Parents should continue doing what most already do intuitively, Wermke says. "Parents should talk and sing to their babies right from the beginning," she says.

''The study substantiates what we have been telling parents about the importance of talking to children [for language development]," Paul says.

Although it can't hurt to talk or sing to your unborn baby, Paul says parents-to-be should realize that there is no guarantee doing so will mean the baby will talk sooner or better than those not sung or talked to before birth.

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