Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Fetal Exposures to Sound and Vibroacoustic Stimulation


Sounds in the environment of a pregnant woman penetrate the tissues and fluids surrounding the fetal head and stimulate the inner ear through a bone conduction route. The sounds available to the fetus are dominated by low-frequency energy, whereas energy above 0.5 kHz is attenuated by 40 to 50 dB. The fetus easily detects vowels, whereas consonants, which are higher in frequency and less intense than vowels, are largely unavailable. Rhythmic patterns of music are probably detected, but overtones are missing. A newborn human shows preference for his/her mother's voice and to musical pieces to which he/she was previously exposed, indicating a capacity to learn while in utero. Intense, sustained noises or impulses produce changes in the hearing of the fetus and damage inner and outer hair cells within the cochlea. The damage occurs in the region of the inner ear that is stimulated by low-frequency sound energy.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Supported by HIH grant HD 20084 and the U.S. Army.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gerhardt, K., Abrams, R. Fetal Exposures to Sound and Vibroacoustic Stimulation. J Perinatol 20, S21–S30 (2000).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links