Follow the amazing development of the child in the womb in this information packed site. Packed with beautiful photographs and amazing facts including an early-life section.
Dr. Jerome Lejeune, known as "The Father of Modern Genetics," testified that human life begins at conception before the Louisiana Legislature's House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice on June 7, 1990.
Dr. Lejeune explained that within three to seven days after fertilization we can determine if the new human being is a boy or a girl. "At no time," Dr. Lejeune said, "is the human being a blob of protoplasm. As far as your nature is concerned, I see no difference between the early person that you were at conception and the late person which you are now. You were, and are, a human being."
Dr. Lejeune also pointed out that each human being is unique - different from the mother - from the moment of conception. He said, "Recent discoveries by Dr. Alec Jeffreys of England demonstrate that this information [on the DNA molecule] is stored by a system of bar codes not unlike those found on products at the supermarket...it's not any longer a theory that each of us is unique."
Dr. Jerome Lejeune died on April 3, 1994. Dr. Lejeune of Paris, France was a medical doctor, a Doctor of Science and a professor of Fundamental Genetics for over twenty years. Dr. Lejeune discovered the genetic cause of Down Syndrome, receiving the Kennedy Prize for the discovery and, in addition, received the Memorial Allen Award Medal, the world's highest award for work in the field of Genetics.
He practiced his profession at the Hôpital des Enfants Malades (Sick Children's Hospital) in Paris. Dr. Lejeune was a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Science, a member of the Royal Society of Medicine in London, The Royal Society of Science in Stockholm, the Science Academy in Italy and Argentina, The Pontifical Academy of Science and The Academy of Medicine in France.
According to medical and genetic textbooks, the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in a single fertilized human egg carries as much data as 50 sets of the 33-volume Encyclopedia Britannica.
These fifty sets of encyclopedia are equivalent to 1,373,625,000 words which, if typewritten in a single line, would stretch for 14,453 miles, more than halfway around the world. For those with an affinity for computers, this is equivalent to about 15,000 megabytes of data. This information would fill 41,700 5-1/4 inch (360 kilobyte) floppy disks, or would make a stack of such disks 280 feet high, about as tall as a thirty-story skyscraper.
If a person read this mountain of information at 300 words a minute for a standard 40-hour week, he would begin on college graduation day and not finish until retirement at age 58 - a total of 37 years! And all of this data is packed into a one-celled organism barely visible to the unaided human eye.
After conception in the Fallopian tubes, the new human being travels slowly down the tube towards the uterus. Its development has already begun. In fact, by the time the blastocyst has implanted in the uterus, it has undergone eight cell divisions of the 45 required to achieve full adulthood at age 18. The blastocyst, which consists of about 256 cells, contains as much information as the main library in a large American city.
This library would contain more than 3 million volumes with a total of about 350 billion words. If these books were stacked on top of each other, they would make a pile fifty miles high. If this information were typewritten in a single line, the line would extend 3.7 million miles, or from here to the Moon and back eight times.
The third week after conception, the levels of HCG hormone produced by the blastocyst quickly increase. This signals the ovaries to stop releasing eggs and produce more estrogen and progesterone. Increased levels of these hormones stop the menstrual period, often the first sign of pregnancy, and fuel the growth of the placenta.
The embryo is now made of three layers. The top layer — the ectoderm — will give rise to the baby's outermost layer of skin, central and peripheral nervous systems, eyes, and inner ears.
The baby's heart and a primitive circulatory system will form in the middle layer of cells — the mesoderm. This layer of cells will also serve as the foundation for the baby's bones, ligaments, kidneys and much of the reproductive system.
The inner layer of cells — the endoderm — is where the baby's lungs and intestines will develop.
At the end of the first month of development, a strip running from the future shoulder to the future hip forms from the intermediate layer of the embryo. At the 5th week, two slightly flattened limb buds appear, first those for the hands and then for the feet. Elongation of the arms and legs occurs subsequently.
The arm buds and then the leg buds quickly develop into limb segments, and two weeks later the hands and spatula-shaped feet arise at the limb extremities. Later on, i.e. during the second half of this month, the fingers separate and acquire a tapered aspect, while the limbs continue to grow longer and the knee, ankle, elbow and wrist joints form.
With development of joint mobility, the forearm is flexed against the arm and the leg against the thigh. The embryo gradually assumes a foetal position: he twists his elbow bringing the hand near the face, and flexion of the knee brings the soles of the feet close to each other.
These appear as evidenced by ultrasound examination beginning with the 8th week of term. These first movements are slow, rare and jerky, and are similar to crawling movements because the foetal joints still have little mobility.
At about 2 and a half months of term, foetal movements become more frequent, more rapid, together with movements that are still poorly and imperfectly coordinated, such as the hand moving towards the mouth. At this stage, the musculature is still little developed, but the joints become functional. Movements still are not strong enough to be felt by the mother.
Beginning at 3 months and thereafter, outside of the main sleep periods for the foetus which are lengthy, foetal movements acquire strength and precision and active movements are associated with slower movements of stretching. The mother begins to feel these movements at about four months of term.
Coordination and precision of movements now are related to the extent of organisation of the central nervous system which is being formed.
Then, with the foetus comfortably installed inside his capsule, he then moves his arms and legs in all directions simulating an actual aquatic dance characterised by suppleness and graceful movement.
During the last two months, with the foetus limited to a very confined amount of space, movements occur much less frequently: the foetus pushes against the wall of the uterus with his foot, and twists to get out of an uncomfortable position. But these movements still occur. If such movements no longer occurred for 24 hours, the mother would have to immediately inform her physician.
The age of a premature baby at birth is measured by age from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP). Weight is also a measure when the dates are uncertain, a 20- to 22-week-old baby has an average weight of 500-600 gm (1 lb., 2 oz. to 1 lb., 5 oz.) with "normals" varying from 400 to 700 gm (14 oz. to 1 lb., 9 oz.).
There are also other maturation factors that are used. With the widespread establishment of premature intensive care units, the age of survival has dropped dramatically. For example, in 1950, it was rare for a baby to survive if born at 30 weeks (A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks). Today, infants born as early as 21 weeks gestation are surviving. For example, babies like Curtin Means who was born at just 21 weeks.
Surgery is now possible for a baby before they are even born, and has been performed on babies at just 23 weeks gestation. For example, in cases where spina bifida is diagnosed, the pregnant mother has her uterus removed, where a careful incision is made in order to allow the doctors to operate on the unborn baby. The incision is then closed and the uterus is returned to the mothers body, where the baby will continue to develop until his or her due date.
Yes. Scientists conducting a comprehensive review of the literature surrounding this topic have concluded that the unborn baby may even feel pain within the first trimester, as early as 12 weeks, with 15 weeks gestation being the point at which studies have stated that the unborn baby is “extremely sensitive to painful stimuli".
Research proves that part of your baby lives in your body for up to 38 years