This is a very interesting article with a web link after the article if you would like to read more.
"For years and years, soon-to-be parents have asked themselves the same question, “Can baby hear us?” and for just as long the question has gone unanswered. Now, however, researchers have finallycome to a conclusion and it’s sure to be one that mom and dads-to-be are over the moon about!
Newborns are much more attuned the the sound of the native language than we ever thought, linguists say. Newborns can pick up on distinctive sounds of their mother tongue while in utero.
The unbelievable research was led by Christine Moon, a professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University. “We have known for over 30 years that we begin learning prenatally about voices by listening to the sound of our mother talking,” Moon said. “This is the first study that shows we learn about the particular speech sounds of our mother’s language before we are born.”
Prior to the study, it was widely believed that infants learned small parts of speech after they had left the womb. This study states the opposite. “This study moves the measurable result of experience with individual speech sounds from six months of age to before birth,” she said.
Seriously — how incredible? All the time the proud parents have spent singing and talking to their little babe are worth every moment (not like we’d suggest you stop doing it otherwise – it’s important to have a connect to your child pre-birth).
For her study, Moon tested newborn infants shortly after birth while still in the hospital in two different locations: Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, and in the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. Infants heard either Swedish or English vowels and linguists could control how many times they heard the vowels by sucking on a pacifier connected to a computer.
In both countries, the babies listening to the foreign vowels sucked more, than those listening to their native tongue regardless of how much postnatal experience they had. This indicated to researchers that they were learning the vowel sounds in utero."