BioethicsFri Feb 22, 2013 - 10:00 pm EST
New research shows brain connectivity begins in utero
February 22, 2013, (National Right to Life News) -Scientific investigation has proven to be a persuasive pro-life tool by shedding light on the humanity of the unborn child. Science has shown a baby’s tiny heart begins to beat by 21 days after conception and that by 20 weeks fetal age a baby is capable of feeling pain.
Now researchers at Wayne State University and the Perinatology Research Branch of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Detroit have shown brain connectivity in unborn children.
Researchers believe the breakthrough study could lead to new ways to prevent and treat brain disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia. The study was published in “Science Translational Medicine” on Wednesday.
Moriah Thomason, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the WSU School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study, told the Detroit News, “We never, ever have been able to peer into the fetal brain and look at the development of functional networks. Scientific researchers will take this new method and apply it to a great number of questions, and that will help us all.”
The research, funded partly by the NIH and Wayne State, included 25 unborn babies between 24 to 38 weeks of gestation. They found that using functional MRI–a process that measures oxygen and blood flow in the brain—“snapshots during pregnancy can visually show brain connection networks in the fetus and their development,” according to Mary Posani, writing for Medill Reports.
The scans [a sample of which you can watch in real time] show that brain connectivity develops not after the baby is born but in utero. And by comparing the scans at slightly different stages of development, researchers were able to pinpoint when different parts of the brain “wire up.”1
“It is the first study of a larger project that seeks to define how functional brain networks form in fetuses and examine the environment of the developing child in utero, and factors in the mother’s life,” The Detroit News’s Kim Kozlowski reported.
For years, brain waves have been detectable in unborn child by 6 weeks after conception. The new study takes a deeper look into the early development of the brain and could pave the way for treating brain disorders.
Abortion advocates, however, typically do not embrace these scientific advancements but rather deny their validity. For example, despite the fact that it is common medical practice to administer anesthesia to an unborn child during intrauterine surgery, abortion advocates insist unborn babies cannot feel pain.
As we learn more and more about the life of the unborn child before birth, opposing any and all limits on abortion becomes that much more indefensible.
This article originally appeared on National Right to Life News and is reprinted with permission.
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