Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prenatal education

Over at Huffington Post, they have a photo series of the "craziest" electronic devices being offered at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. One is an allegedly educational device for fetuses called Baby Plus prenatal education system.

Baby Plus is a "curriculum" consisting of a series of sounds that imitate a mother's heartbeat. I guess it's supposed to be better than, you know, the mother's heartbeat. The website has a series of testimonials of parents whose babies are calmer, smarter, and cuter than even they expected.

Their website also has a link called Science. Click on the link, and you are led to a page giving the historical basis for Baby Plus, starting with what Confucius and Aristotle thought about child-rearing and going through a series of irrelevant items until the guy who started the company  had his great insight and invented Baby Plus.

For a scientific basis, they say babies hear mom's heartbeat loudly. Baby Plus plays similar sounds softer, so the baby will be more sensitive to their environment than non-Baby Plus kids.

For technical papers, they cite two papers from 1987 and 1991 in Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal and one reference book from 1995.

They cite a Russian "independent clinical trial." The period of the trial was 10 years, from 1992 to 2001, and they had 11 Baby Plus subjects, 11 who listened to music instead, and 9 controls. They assert a consistent improvement on the part of the Baby Plus kids. I didn't see a citation to which peer-reviewed journal it was published in.

Me, I think it's crap. I think the scientific basis makes no sense, and the techical papers are irrelevant. I can't evaluate the clinical trial from here, but since everything else about the product smells to me, I feel skeptical about the trial as well. If this company really has discovered something important about kids, I'd like to see a bigger trial published in a peer-reviewed journal.

No comments:

Post a Comment