Advertisement

When does the fetus develop the sense of balance?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
You may think that babies don't need to have balance at all since they're not exactly standing or walking in the womb, but the ability to balance is essential for babies, too. In truth, the fetus has a well-developed vestibular system that gives him his sense of space - living much of the time upside-down in a right-side-up world.

Most of our vestibular system comes from the structures of the inner ear - called such because it is right next to the cochlea - specifically, semicircular canals and otolith organs, which are lined with tiny hairs called cilia that transmit electrical impulses to brain. This vestibular system allows babies to somersault into a head-down position right before birth. (Babies with vestibular problems are likely to be born breech.)

Interestingly, balance problems in babies can be linked to later emotional and cognitive problems. Antibiotic use by the mother during pregnancy may be one culprit for this.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

More About this Book

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time,...

Continue Learning about Fetal Development Basics & Pregnancy

Will I deliver my baby early if I have IUGR?
SwedishSwedish
If you have intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and your baby has stopped growing or has other pr...
More Answers
At what point in my pregnancy do I start counting my baby's kicks?
Count the KicksCount the Kicks
Typically you start monitoring fetal movements during the third trimester of your pregnancy, or at 2...
More Answers
Why is birth weight plotted on a bell curve?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
The classic bell curve helps make a vital point about how your baby's weight in the womb influences ...
More Answers
How fast does a brain develop in utero?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
The pace at which a baby's neural network is built is truly mind boggling: In utero, brains buil...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.