Unborn babies are able to hear in the womb at just 16 weeks gestation, a new study has revealed.

For the first time scientists at the Institut Marques in Barcelona have shown a foetus is able to detect sounds, and furthermore, that they respond by moving their mouths and tongues.

It is accepted that an unborn baby’s ear is fully developed at week 16 of a pregnancy.

But, until now experts did not believe a foetus could hear until week 18, at the earliest but more commonly nearer 26 weeks.

Dr Marisa Lopez-Teijon, who led the study, said the findings show a foetus responds to music transmitted intravaginally by moving their mouth and tongue, ‘as if they were trying to speak or sing’.

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