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Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Aug;80(2):186-90.

Sound levels in the human uterus.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.



We sought to determine the degree to which noises and voices are attenuated or enhanced as they pass into the uterus.


In eight parturients, a hydrophone in the uterus was used to measure sound pressure levels for externally generated one-third-octave band noises, male and female voices, and the subject's voice.


Low-frequency sounds (0.125 kHz) generated outside the mother were enhanced by an average of 3.7 dB. There was a gradual increase in attenuation for increasing frequencies, with a maximum attenuation of 10.0 dB at 4.0 kHz. Sound attenuation was slightly less if the insonation was from in front of the woman rather than behind. Intrauterine sound levels of the mother's voice were enhanced by an average of 5.2 dB, whereas external male and female voices were attenuated by 2.1 and 3.2 dB, respectively. The effect of frequency on attenuation, the differences between front and back insonation, and the differences between speakers in attenuation were all statistically significant.


The intrauterine environment is rich with externally generated sounds. This may imply fetal risk from maternal noise exposure and may aid in understanding fetal imprinting from prenatal exposure to voices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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