THURSDAY, May 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Music moves people in many ways. And it appears to cause especially strong reactions in pregnant women, a new study finds.
Moms-to-be showed greater changes in blood pressure in response to music than other women and had stronger feelings about pleasant and unpleasant music, according to the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in Leipzig, Germany.
The researchers played a series of 10- to 30-second clips of music to pregnant and non-pregnant women. In some cases, the researchers altered the music to make it less pleasant.
The expectant mothers rated the music as more intensely pleasant or unpleasant than those who weren't pregnant, and also showed much stronger blood pressure responses to the music.
The results show that music is a significant stimulus for pregnant women, according to the researchers.
"Every acoustic manipulation of music affects blood pressure in pregnant women far more intensely than in non-pregnant women," study author Tom Fritz said in an institute news release.
It's not clear why music has such a strong effect in pregnancy, but higher levels of estrogen may play a contributing role. The hormone affects the brain's reward system, which is responsible for the pleasant sensations experienced while listening to music, the study authors explained.
Pregnancy may also trigger other bodily changes that boost women's responses to music, the researchers added.
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about pregnancy.