Researchers at the University of London (United Kingdom) have verified, after measuring the brain waves produced by babies, that they kick their mother's gut to explore their own body and environment.
To reach this conclusion, published in the journal 'Scientific Reports', the scientists measured the brain waves of babies during sleep through an electroencephalography (EEG). Active sleep was behaviorally identified according to the lateral observation of rapid eye movements, largely irregular breathing and frequent and isolated movements of the extremities.
A total of 19 infants of two days of age on average participated in the study, and had between 31 and 42 weeks of corrected gestational age when they were studied. Corrected gestational age takes into account their age if they were still in the womb, so a baby born at 35 weeks and one week of age would have a corrected gestational age of 36 weeks.
Thus, experts observed that the movement of the right hand of a baby caused the brain waves to activate immediately afterwards in the part of the left hemisphere that processes the contact with the right hand. In this way, they could verify that the fetal kicks in the last stages of pregnancy helped to develop areas of the brain that deal with sensory information, this being the way in which the baby develops a sensation of his own body.
In fact, the rapid brain waves caused by the movement disappeared when the babies were a few weeks old. "We believe that our findings have implications for providing the optimal hospital environment for babies born prematurely, in order to receive the appropriate sensory information, for example, it is routine for babies to be nested in their cribs, because it allows them to feel a surface when their limbs kick, as if they were still inside the uterus, "the experts said.
Finally, as the movements they observed occurred during sleep, the results obtained in the new research supported other studies that indicated that sleep should be protected in newborns, for example, minimizing the discomfort associated with necessary medical procedures.