New Study Predicts If Baby Is Right- or Left-Handed While Still in the Womb
by Lisa René LeClair
Photograph by Twenty20
It takes months
for newborns to grasp an object, years before they can draw and even longer for
them to learn to write. With each new skill, kids reveal a possible preference
for the use of one hand or other parts of the body. Yet, we still don't know if
babies are born or if they "become" right-handed or left-handed while
still in the womb.
To answer that
question, Valentina Parma, researcher at the International School for Advanced
Studies–SISSA of Trieste, and Professor Umberto Castiello of the University
of Padua, conducted a study
of 29 fetuses over the course of nine years, and the result was intriguing.
By analyzing the
characteristics of several fetal movements and comparing predictions with
preferences shown by the same boys and girls at age 9, researchers were able
to determine—with remarkable accuracy—that a baby's hand preference and motor
system is well-defined and highly sophisticated as early as 18 weeks of
The most notable
part of analysis took place during 14, 18 and 22 weeks of gestation. Using 4-D
ultrasound scan, scientists viewed three-dimensional imaging in real time and
studied three types of movements: two of greater precision, directed to the
eyes and mouth, and one aimed toward the uterine wall.
the 18th week of gestation—that fetuses would execute movements requiring precision significantly with what would become the
preferred hand, thus confirming that motor systems are detectable in utero.
Not only that, but researchers believe that the accuracy of methods used for this study, which ranged between 89 and 100 percent, can help identify new markers at an early stage. If this is true, doctors may soon be able to intervene and offset development problems, such as such as depression, schizophrenia and autistic spectrum disorders.
We just might have
to exercise a little patience until they figure it all out.