Mothers pass sadness, happiness to their unborn babies

London: Besides food and oxygen, mothers also pass fleeting sadness or happiness to their unborn babies, claims a study.

To reach the conclusion, Kazuyuki Shinohara and colleagues at Nagasaki University in Japan showed 10 pregnant volunteers a cheery 5-minute clip from the musical The Sound of Music.

And another 14 watched an emotional 5-minute clip from The Champ, in which a boy cries at the death of his father. Each clip was sandwiched between two "neutral" samples so that the team could measure any changes in fetal movements against a baseline, reports New Scientist.

The participants were made to listen through headphones to ensure that only the effect of their emotions, not the sounds, were being measured.

"Fetuses can hear by the last trimester," says Shinohara.

The team counted the number of arm, leg and whole body movements via ultrasound and found that during the happy film clip the unborn babies moved their arms significantly more than when the pregnant women watched the neutral clips.

However, the unborn babies of the women watching the sad clip moved their arms significantly less than normal.

Shinohara concluded that while it was unclear what makes the unborn child of a happy mother "wave," he suggests that sadness releases more of the "fight or flight" hormone epinephrine (adrenalin), which redirects blood away from the uterus and prepares muscles for exertion.

The study has been published in the Journal of Physiological Sciences. (ANI)