Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Monday, May 24, 1999 Published at 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK


Health

Baby talk 'could speed development'

Baby talk may stimulate development

Baby talk may have an important impact on a child's development, according to researchers.

They have found that young infants find the flat tones of depressed mothers less stimulating than the excited high-pitched ones associated with baby talk.

They say this could explain why the children of depressed mothers do not perform as well in child development tests as most other children.

At least one in 10 women in the UK are thought to suffer from post-natal depression.

The researchers from the University of Colorado said babies who were exposed to the recordings of depressed mothers were slower in tests.

They studied 225 babies aged about four months.

They then recorded mothers with varying degrees of clinically diagnosed depression trying to get their infants interested in a toy gorilla.

The mothers said "pet the gorilla" to the babies.

The mothers who were severely depressed pronounced the words in a flatter tone than those who were only moderately depressed.

The babies were played the recordings and then shown a videotape of a smiling mother.

Stimulation

While they listened to the recording, a pattern was put in front of them and the researchers studied how much time they spent looking at it.

They found that children who listened to severely depressed women spent much less time looking at the pattern.

Professor Peter Kaplan, who led the study, said: "We found that depressed mothers who were trying to interest their infants in a toy - a stuffed gorilla - said the word 'gorilla' in a voice with relatively flat pitch.

"This raised the possibility that infants, who are known to react more strongly to speech high in pitch modulation, would not learn well about the world around them when prompted with speech uttered by depressed caregivers."

Writing in the journal Child Development, the researchers suggest that depressed mothers may give their babies little stimulation which, over time, could postpone development.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

04 May 99 | Health
Men suffer from baby blues

09 Apr 99 | Health
Premature birth 'offers less cancer protection'

09 Apr 99 | Health
NHS warning over millennium baby

06 Apr 99 | Health
Midwives to clock millennium baby

12 Mar 99 | Health
Depressed mums 'need more help'





Internet Links


Institute of Child Health

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Baby talk


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99