Can Dolphins Stimulate Brain Growth in Babies?

ByABC News via logo
October 18, 2005, 8:18 AM

Oct. 18, 2005— -- Scientists in Peru say the squeals and squeaks of dolphins may stimulate the brain of an unborn child.

At one aquarium, expectant mothers line up along the side of the pool and a dolphin swims up and nuzzles against her belly making squeaking noises.

One mother said, in Spanish, that she can feel her baby respond to the noises, but researchers say more work needs to be done to verify the effectiveness of the therapy.

"They (dolphins) can tell when another dolphin is pregnant and they can certainly tell when a human is pregnant," said Dr. Janet Mann of Georgetown University. "I wouldn't rush out as a pregnant woman and pay money to be in the water with a dolphin thinking that it would make my baby's brain grow."

Dolphin therapy is just the latest effort by parents willing to try anything to give their kids an early start. For years, expectant parents have played music to their unborn children.

"There is certainly evidence to show that babies' behaviors are changed in utero in response to music," said Dr. Todd Rosen of New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University. "But it's unclear whether there's any long-term benefit from that kind of exposure in utero."