It came as little surprise to Freddie’s parents to discover their one-year-old son has an ear for music.
After all, music filled the air at the time of his conception in a pioneering Spanish IVF clinic.
In July, scientists at the Institut Marquès in Barcelona reported ground-breaking results showing that music played during fertilisation increased the chances of creating an embryo by almost 5%.
The research is still on-going, but there are early indications of a dramatic impact on live birth rates in new figures released by the team. Of 69 live births recorded so far, 55 were from the group fertilised with the help of music and 14 from the group without music.
The first British baby born after a musical conception was Freddie, from Liverpool. His parents Isabelle and Stephen went to the Spanish clinic after a series of miscarriages and failed attempts at IVF.
Isabelle, who is in her late 40s, said: “We were amazed to learn that our son had actually been the first child born in the UK using this technique.
“From early on we noticed he was hugely drawn to music. He always loved being sung to and seemed more relaxed when music was being played. “We hope that when we tell Freddie about the musical element of his beginnings and the fact that he was at the forefront of this ground-breaking research it will help him feel extra special.”
Scientists conducted the research using 985 eggs from 114 different women.
They divided the eggs into two groups which were kept in different incubators. An iPod placed in one incubator was used to play three different genres of music — pop, classical and heavy rock — during attempts at fertilisation. Music was found to improve fertilisation rates by 4.8%. It made no difference if the incubator resounded to the sound of Michael Jackson, Vivaldi, or Metallica.
The findings were reported in July at the European Society of Human Reproduction’s annual meeting in London.
Dr Victoria Walker, from the Institut Marquès, said: “We always try to recreate the environment and natural conditions of the female body from the moment the sperm moves to meet the egg. We maintain the same temperature, light, and oxygen levels that exist naturally, for instance, we work in low light.
“The great challenge was to mimic the movements of the fallopian tube and uterus. Some groups have done this by applying mechanical vibrations to the culture dishes, but we decided to use music as the source of vibration.
“The theory is that the musical vibrations help to take away waste products and bring in food from the culture, and that helps the process of fertilisation.”
Dr Walker stressed that the live birth figures were from early observations and the research is still in progress.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved