There's Purpose Behind Babies' Movement in the Womb

By Medscape Staff

February 16, 2023

The random movements that babies make while in the womb help boost their sensorimotor movement that will aid them after birth, according to researchers at the University of Tokyo.

What to know:

  • The hundreds of neurons that control each muscle are synchronized in a fetus to create strong contractions that stimulate its activity.

  • Random movements of babies in the womb help their development and boost the growth of their sensorimotor system, which supports everything from language development, cognitive growth, and hand– eye coordination to problem solving skills and social interaction.

  • Infants develop their own sensorimotor system based on explorational behavior or curiosity, so they are not just repeating the same action but a variety of actions implying a linkage between early spontaneous movements and spontaneous neuronal activity.

  • Newborns and infants can acquire coordination skills through spontaneous whole-body movements without an explicit purpose or task, showing more common patterns and sequential movements, with an increase in coordinated whole-body and anticipatory movements as they grow older.

  • Understanding how the sensorimotor system develops starting in vitro could lead to understanding and treating a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, motor neuron disease, and even cerebral palsy.

This is a summary of the article, "Mystery of why babies kick in the womb finally solved, scientists say," published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 6, 2022. The full article can be found at

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