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Talk about starting early - education begins in the womb
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08:34, August 22, 2007

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Young Chinese families are trying to give their kids an early start in the ultra-competitive process of education: By starting lessons in the womb.

Pregnant women are talking to their unborn babies, and even playing Mozart music, to their bellies in an effort to help their child get a headstart on education and an edge in intelligence.

According to heath experts, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice, taijiao, has re-emerged as a trendy way for the new generation of urban mothers.

Taijiao, or fetal education, is designed to boost the mood of mothers-to-be in a bid to ensure a smooth pregnancy and a healthy, intelligent child.

However the new practice has taken on more features. Old fetal education advocated eating well, keeping an emotional balance, maximizing exposure to "high culture" such as art, and maintaining a peaceful environment.

The new regime requires expectant mothers not only to just sit in a beautiful garden, but verbally describe the flowers and trees to the fetus to promote early language development.

Modern taijiao requires pregnant women not to just take up physical activity, but do prenatal yoga and wave a flashlight on the belly to stimulate the fetus' sense of vision.

In its most extreme form, taijiao advocates teaching specific content, such as a song or vocabulary to the fetus so the baby will already be learned by birth.

Pregnant women who do taijiao such as Zhen Ying, a 30-year-old Beijing journalist, and Liu Yanche, a 28-year-old clothes saleswomen, say that talking to their babies is relaxing and helps them bond with their future child.

According to M.K. Chin, a nurse-midwife who has delivered more than 3,000 babies, she has seen more expectant mothers take up taijiao in the past five years and says its is beneficial.

However she says no amount of taijiao is as effective as mother-child bonding after birth and says breastfeeding is a far more positive choice for a child's intelligence than taijiao.

Source: China Daily

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