SCIENCE

This Expensive Speaker For Your Vagina Probably Won’t Help Your Baby

The Babypod streams music into your womb, which would be great if that had any effect, but it almost certainly doesn't

SCIENCE
Dec 31, 2015 at 4:03 PM ET

A Spanish gynecological clinic has created a speaker that women can insert into their vagina so their babies can listen to music in the womb, and it is unlikely to do much good.

The device, called a Babypod, is the result of a study conducted by Institut Marquès in Barcelona. Fetuses in the study were exposed to music by two different means: an intravaginal speaker and headphones placed on their mother’s abdomen. Fetuses were far more likely to open their mouth and stick out their tongue when music was pumped into their mother’s vagina. The researchers concluded that when fetuses hear music through their mother’s abdomen, quality is diminished by layers of soft tissue and amniotic fluid. The prototype intravaginal speaker the scientists used evolved into the Babypod.

Institut Marquès promoted their study and the Babypod with what appears to be the world’s first concert for fetuses. Spanish singer Soroya sang Christmas carols like “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “White Christmas” for an audience of expecting mothers who watched while Babypods streamed the songs into their vaginas. At one point during the show, some of the women danced on stage, while still holding the device that was connected to their vaginas. “I’ve never been performing for such a young audience,” Soroya said in a video about the concert. “So for me it’s been a very special show.”

The Babypod is available online for any mother that can’t wait to share their favorite music with their unborn child. All it takes is $135 and insertion of a foreign plastic object into your vagina. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee anything more will come of the experience.

The popular notion that unborn babies benefit from listening to music in the womb dates back to 1993, when a psychologist studied the effect of one of Mozart’s piano sonatas on 36 college students. The students took spacial reasoning tests after listening to ten minutes of Mozart, after listening to ten minutes of monotone speaking and after listening to ten minutes of silence. Their scores were much higher after listening to Mozart, but the effect only lasted 10 to 15 minutes. Regardless, the media ran with the study and the story snowballed into a fairly widespread belief that Mozart’s music will raise babies’ IQs. Before long, albums containing Mozart’s music aimed at infants started popping up in infomercials.

In the last two decades several other studies have focused on the effects of music on children. While some research has shown that children may recognize music that they heard in the womb, there is very little proof that there are any lasting benefits to that music. The notion of a specific “Mozart Effect” has been debunked by several studies. The general scientific consensus is captured in the title of one of the most sweeping, ambitious studies of the matter, the 2010 paper “Mozart Effect—Shmozart Effect.”