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NEW! What Science Tells Us About the Unborn

Why Do Babies Laugh? New Research Sets Out Find the Cute and Adorable Answers

New Smart-Phone "Appcessory" Allows Moms to Hear Unborn Child's Heartbeat

Birth Rates for Females Aged 15–19 Years, by Race/Ethnicity — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2007 and 2012

Facinating Video Shows Conception to Birth Visualized

Breathtaking Pictures Capture the Miracle of Birth, First Moments Outside Womb

3-D Plastic Models Let You See Face of Unborn Baby Before Birth

The Developmental Milestones Reached by the Unborn Child at 20 Weeks

Open-Womb Surgery Treats Unborn Baby’s Hydrocephalus

The Fetal Brain and Fetal Pain: Congressional Testimony

3 Minute, 24 Seconds Video “Voyage” Depicts Amazing Development of Unborn Children

Research: Unborn Babies Recognize, Process Speech at 29 Weeks

Study: Babies Can Read Each Others’ Moods by Five Months of Age

Unborn Babies Learn Amazing Things Like Taste and Scent in the Womb

Babies In Womb Make Faces & Complex Expressions, Study Shows

Fascinating Discovery Shows Unborn Baby’s Cells Go to Mom’s Brain

Stunning New Process Creates 3-D Model of Your Unborn Child

Amazing 4-D Ultrasound Captures Baby Yawning in the Womb

What’s Behind the U.S. Fertility Drop?

“Pretty Spectacular” Images of Fetal Development Available as iBook

Infant Mortality Rate in Alabama Falls to an All-Time Low in 2011

Healthy Teeth Help Moms Get Pregnant, Fight Low Birth-Weight Deliveries

Links to Zinc: Nutrition Expert Finds Tie Between Trace Mineral, Birth Weights

Amazing BBC Video Shows Development of Human Face in the Womb

Babies in Womb Pick Up Linguistic Traits of Their Mothers

Flawed Miscarriage Diagnosis Criteria May Lead to Abortion of Healthy Babies: Study

Advanced Reproductive Age and Fertility: Abstract

What Science Tells Us About the Unborn

Before deciding how we ought to treat the unborn—a moral question—we must first be clear about what the unborn is. This is a scientific question, and it is answered with clarity by the science of human embryology.

When sperm fertilizes egg

The facts of reproduction are straightforward. Upon completion of the fertilization process, sperm and egg have ceased to exist (this is why “fertilized egg” is an inaccurate term); what exists is a single cell with 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent) that is called a zygote. The coming into existence of the zygote is the point of conception—the beginning of the life of a new human organism. The terms zygote, embryo and fetus all refer to developmental stages in the life of a human being.

Four features of the unborn

 Four features of the unborn (i.e., the human zygote, embryo or fetus) are relevant to his or her status as a human being.

First, the unborn is living. She meets all the biological criteria for life: metabolism, cellular reproduction and reaction to stimuli. Moreover, she is clearly growing, and dead things (of course) don’t grow.

Second, the unborn is human. She possesses a human genetic signature that proves this beyond any doubt. She is also the offspring of human parents, and we know that humans can only beget humans (they cannot beget dogs or cats, for instance). The unborn may not seem to “look” human (at least in her earlier stages), but in fact she looks exactly like a human at that level of human development. Living things do not become something different as they grow and mature; rather, they develop the way that they do precisely because of the kind of being they already are.

Third, the unborn is genetically and functionally distinct from (though dependent on and resting inside of) the pregnant woman. Her growth and maturation is internally directed, and her DNA is unique and different from that of any other cell in the woman’s body. She develops her own arms, legs, brain, central nervous system, etc. To say that a fetus is a part of the pregnant woman’s body is to say that the woman has four arms and four legs, and that about half of pregnant women have penises.

A whole organism

Fourth, the unborn is a whole or complete (though immature) organism. That is, she is not a mere part of another living thing, but is her own organism—an entity whose parts work together in a self-integrated fashion to bring the whole to maturity. Her genetic information is fully present at conception, determining to a large extent her physical characteristics (including sex, eye color, skin color, bone structure, etc.); she needs only a suitable environment and nutrition to develop herself through the different stages of human life.

Thus, the unborn is a distinct, living and whole human organism—a full-fledged member of the species Homo sapiens, like you and me, only at a much earlier stage in her development. She is a human being.

Affirmed by textbooks, scientists

This fact is confirmed by embryology textbooks and leading scientists, who could be cited here ad nauseam.

In The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, perhaps the most widely used embryology text, Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud explain: “Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell — a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”

Langman’s Embryology notes, “The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

Adds Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth of Harvard Medical School, “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception, when egg and sperm join to form the zygote, and this developing human always is a member of our species in all stages of its life.”

In 1981 a U.S. Senate judiciary subcommittee heard expert testimony on the question of when life begins. The official subcommittee report reached this conclusion:

“Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being—a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.”

The report also noted that “no witness [who testified before the subcommittee] raised any evidence to refute the biological fact that from the moment of conception there exists a distinct individual being who is alive and is of the human species. No witness challenged the scientific consensus that unborn children are ‘human beings,’ insofar as the term is used to mean living beings of the human species.”

Evidence is decisive

The evidence, then, shows that the unborn is a living organism of the human species from his or her beginning at conception. Thus, to kill the unborn by abortion or for embryo-destructive research is to kill a human being. This is not a moral claim about whether such killing is right or wrong, but a factual one, based on the scientific evidence of embryology.

Objections to this conclusion stem from scientific ignorance, confusion or misunderstanding. I consider common objections below.

Objection #1: ‘No one knows’

The claim that “no one knows when life begins” is so often repeated that it bears addressing. While there is indeed debate about when a human being becomes (if she isn’t by nature) valuable and deserving of full moral respect, the strictly biological matter is clear, as I explain above. The life of a human being, a living member of our species, begins at conception.

(Contrary to what many pro-choice advocates apparently believe, agnosticism regarding the unborn is actually a decisive reason to refrain from killing her. A hunter does not shoot into the brush unless he is sure that his target is not a person.)

Objection #2: Potential of sperm and egg

Some say that if the unborn is a human being, then we must (absurdly) conclude that the sperm and egg are also human beings, for they also have the potential to become a child, a teenager and eventually an adult.

This is bad biology. The sperm and egg are simply parts of larger organisms. When they unite they cease to be and something new comes into existence: the zygote, a whole organism with the active capacity to develop into a mature member of its species, given only a suitable environment and nutrition. Each of us was once a zygote, but none of us was ever a sperm or egg.

Objection #3: Somatic cells

Some people compare the zygote and embryo to regular somatic (body) cells, which are also human, living and possessing of a full genetic code. Since these cells are not actual human beings—brushing skin cells off my arm is not the killing of hundreds of tiny humans—the zygote or embryo is not an actual human being either, the critic reasons.

But there is a crucial difference. The unborn is its own organism, not a mere part of another. The unborn from conception is a distinct and complete individual whose parts work together in a coordinated fashion to develop the whole to maturity. That is not true of skin or other somatic cells, which function as mere parts of a larger organism.

Objection #4: Twinning

Defenders of embryo-destructive research sometimes say that because very early embryos can split into two distinct embryos—an event called twinning—the early embryo must not itself be a unitary individual. But the conclusion does not follow.

When a flatworm is cut in half, or when an organism is cloned via somatic cell nuclear transfer, a single organism gives rise to two distinct organisms. In both cases the original entity is a unitary, self-integrating, whole individual. The scientific evidence shows that the embryo likewise functions as its own organism, from the zygote stage forward, regardless of whether twinning occurs.

Objection #5: Brain death

The irreversible cessation of brain activity is used as a criterion for the death of a human being, even though some of the body’s organs can live after brain death. For this reason, some advocates of embryo-destructive research claim that the life of a human being does not begin until the unborn develops a brain.

But brain death is accepted as a cr

iterion only because it signals the end of the body’s ability to function as an integrated organism, for which the brain, in older humans, is essential. After brain death there is no longer a unitary organism. By contrast, the embryo from conception is a unitary organism, actively developing herself to the next stage of human life. The brain, at this earliest stage, is not yet necessary for her to function as such.

All, or only some?

Because the scientific facts are clear, the permissibility of taking unborn human life hinges on a moral question.

Do all human beings merit full moral respect and protection, as you and I uncontroversially do—or only some?

[August 5, 2014, Paul Stark,  Editor’s note: Paul Stark is Communications Associate for MCCL, National Right to Life’s state affiliate. This originally ran in two separate issues of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) News. ]




Why Do Babies Laugh? New Research Sets Out Find the Cute and Adorable Answers

There are few sweeter sounds than hearing a baby laugh, especially when they laugh for the first time.

New Smart-Phone "Appcessory" Allows Moms to Hear Unborn Child's Heartbeat
Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.,
NRL Director of Education & Research

Pro-lifers have told people without fail that "abortion stops a beating heart," but perhaps no technology made that clearer than the fetal heartbeat stethoscope, allowing mothers and dads to hear the “whoosh-whoosh” of their unborn child’s pumping circulatory system. That is, until maybe now.

For years, the fetal heartbeat stethoscope was a specialized piece of medical equipment largely used within the confines of a pregnant woman’s Ob-Gyn. As a mom shared the experience with other members of her family, her friends, or her co-workers of the wonder of the “whoosh,” her accounts were largely second hand.

Now, though, thanks to a new smart-phone “appcessory” featured in the March 6, 2014 issue of Laptop Magazine, a woman can hook a microphone and amplifier up to her iPhone, hold the microphone next to her belly, and listen to her baby’s heartbeat whenever and wherever she wants.

And she can share that amazing experience with anyone she wants!

The new Bellabeat Tracking System sells for $129 and can be used by phones with either an iOS or an Android operating system. The BabyWatch companion app not only enables the mother to hear the heartbeat, but also allows her to see a colorful, moving display of her baby’s vital signs…   visit link below for remainder of article
[19 March 14, ]

QuickStats: Birth Rates for Females Aged 15–19 Years, by Race/Ethnicity — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2007 and 2012

From 2007 to 2012, the birth rate for females aged 15–19 years in the United States overall declined by 29%, from 41.5 to 29.4 births per 1,000 females in that age group. Among racial/ethnic populations, declines ranged from 25% for non-Hispanic white females to 39% for Hispanics. Rates decreased 29% for non-Hispanic black females and American Indian/Alaska Natives and 34% for Asian/Pacific Islanders.

For remainder of article and charts, visit

Source: Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman JK, et al. Births: final data for 2012. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2013; 62(9). Available at
Brady E. Hamilton, PhD., MMWR 2014;63:251,




Facinating Video Shows Conception to Birth Visualized

Did you know a baby develops hands and arms just 32 days after conception?

Breathtaking Pictures Capture the Miracle of Birth, First Moments Outside Womb

A top photographer was given access to Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark where she was able to capture some breathtaking pictures of the miracle of birth and the first seconds of human life.

Suste Bonnen followed 22 caesarean operations on the maternity ward and says her pictures, although some may see them as “graphic” are meant to be a “testimony to the magical wonder of life.”




3-D Plastic Models Let You See Face of Unborn Baby Before Birth

Fasotec, a medical engineering firm based in Tokyo, Japan provides expectant parents 3D plastic models of the face of their baby taken from 3D ultrasounds.  The process costs about $500.

The Developmental Milestones Reached by the Unborn Child at 20 Weeks

Reading some of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts about “late” abortions, it was not until I re-read a post from Sarah Terzo that it struck me what a fundamental oversight I was guilty of.

The flashpoint for pro-abortionists is the law passed in ten states that says you can’t abort a child capable of feeling pain—20 weeks, as established by a large body of scientific study. Understandably, NRL News has written about the science establishing that threshold (by the way, it could be earlier), the politics, the pro-abortion spin, and the like.

What Terzo’s post reminded me of is what — or better put who — would be saved.
In other words, what developmental milestones has the child reached?

There are lots of ways to help all of us understand the incredible complexity of the developing human being and how is in place relatively early in pregnancy. Before specifying some of the benchmarks, here are just a few excellent sources.

* Go to
This is an outstanding fetal development series developed by RTL of Michigan, NRLC’s state affiliate.

* At you will both read another outstanding overview of developmental markers AND be able to watch “A baby’s first months—infinite possibilities,” – where you will see the beginnings of life in the womb and the step-by-step process of fetal development.

* If you click on  you’ll be transfixed by ”Odysee.” In just 3 minutes, 24 seconds the video does a spectacular job of making you understand how “natural” the child&r

squo;s unfolding development actually is.

* To name just one more, “The case against abortion: prenatal development” ( As I wrote in a review, “This documentary utilizes six different imaging technologies to give you unforgettable images inside the womb of the growing baby at the embryonic and fetal stages…Only 3 minutes and eleven seconds long, the video covers the waterfront –the docks, stevedores, and merchant vessels. In so doing it borrows from many of finest resources—in print and online—to create a riveting and absolutely convincing case against abortion.”

So how far on his/her journey has the little one come by 20 weeks? To name just a few examples (from RTL of Michigan)

Week 5: Organ systems are beginning to develop and the baby’s heart starts to beat, just 21 days after fertilization.

Week 6: The baby’s neural tube closes, eventually becoming the fully-formed brain and spinal cord. The baby’s tiny heart is already pumping blood and beats 80 times a minute, and she is 1/8 of an inch long.

Week 10: The baby’s eyelids close to protect the wonderfully complex eyes while they form. Each minute the baby’s brain develops 250,000 new neurons and she can now move her muscles.

Week 11: The baby is two inches long. She has reached the end of the embryonic stage and is now known as a “fetus,” Latin for “young one.” Her kidneys are developing and produce urine for the first time

Week 16: An ultrasound at this point would reveal the baby moving her legs and arms and maybe even sucking her thumb. It might also be able to determine her gender

Week 20: Halfway through 40 weeks, the baby’s mother might begin to feel her tiny movements for the first time.

You get the picture. The baby is already a marvel, as far from a “blob of tissue/clump of cells” as the east is from the west.

Video at
Much info is also available at this website,
[23 July 2013, Dave Andrusko, ]



Open-Womb Surgery Treats Unborn Baby’s Hydrocephalus

A baby diagnosed with hydrocephalus while in his mother’s womb was born free of the condition two months after doctors operated on his brain during a landmark open-womb surgical procedure.




The Fetal Brain and Fetal Pain

Testifying before a U.S. House subcommittee on May 23, Prof. Maureen L. Condic presented the scientific evidence concerning the development of the human brain and nervous system and the ability of unborn children to experience pain. Prof. Condic is a professor of neurobiology and anatomy and director of human embryology instruction at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Some excerpts from her written testimony:

Scientific data regarding fetal brain development and pain perception

The earliest “rudiment” of the human nervous system forms by 28 days (four weeks) after sperm-egg fusion. At this stage, the primitive brain is already “patterned”; i.e. cells in different regions are specified to produce structures appropriate to their location in the nervous system as a whole. … In the region of the brain responsible for thinking, memory and other “higher” functions (the neocortex), the earliest neurons are generated during the fourth week after sperm-egg fusion. …

There is strong scientific evidence that communication between neurons of the brain is established in the seventh week. Synapses, which are the molecular structures required for brain cells to communicate with each other, are detected in the cortex at this time. In animals, synapses are functional immediately and this is likely also true of humans. Thus, the earliest function of the neocortex as a network appears to commence in the seventh week.

The neural circuitry responsible for the most primitive response to pain, the spinal reflex, is in place by 8 weeks of development. This is the earliest point at which the fetus experiences pain in any capacity. And a fetus responds just as humans at later stages of development respond; by withdrawing from the painful stimulus. …

The earliest connections between neurons in the subcortico-frontal pathways (regions of the brain involved in motor control and a wide range of psychological phenomena, including pain perception) are detected by 37 days post sperm-egg fusion and are well established by 8-10 weeks. This indicates that the brain is “wiring” itself in the first trimester, well before reaching the fetal stage of life. …

Connections between the spinal cord and the thalamus, the region of the brain that is largely responsible for pain perception in both the fetus and the adult, begin to form around 12 weeks and are completed by 18 weeks.

The long-range connections within the cortex that some believe to be required for consciousness do not arise until much later, around 22-24 weeks. And these connections continue to develop for an exceptionally long time. Indeed, recent studies indicate that the anatomy of the human brain, and therefore the pattern of brain activity underlying all higher functions (reason, memory, emotion, language, etc.), is not fully mature until approximately 25 years after birth.

What brain structures are necessary for a fetus to feel pain?

To experience pain, a noxious stimulus must be detected. The neural structures necessary to detect noxious stimuli are in place by 8-10 weeks of human development.

There is universal agreement that pain is detected by the fetus in the first trimester. The debate concerns how pain is experienced; i.e., whether a fetus has the same pain experience a newborn or an adult would have. While every individual’s experience of pain is personal, a number of scientific observations address what brain structures are necessary for a mental or psychological experience of pain.

First, it is clear that children born without higher brain structures (‘decorticate’ patients) are capable of experiencing pain and also other conscious behaviors … This indicates that the long-range connections that develop in the cortex only after 22 weeks (and are absent in these patients) are not obligatory for a psychological perception of pain.

Similarly, experimental animals that have had the cortex removed also show a vigorous response to painful stimuli, again indicating that late-developing cortical pathways are not required for pain perception and response. The observations of human decorticate patients and experimentally decorticated animals noted above are consistent with what is known about the representation of consciousness and emotion in the brain. …

Finally, direct experimental evidence from adult humans contradicts the assertion of ACOG, JAMA and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that mature pain perception requires cortical circuitry. Ablation or stimulation of the cortex in humans does not affect pain perception, whereas ablation of lower centers, including the thalamus, does. These neurological findings indicate that “mature” pain perception is largely localized to the
thalamus. The spino-thalamic circuits required for pain perception are established between 12-18 weeks post sperm-egg fusion.

What we observe about fetal pain

[W]hat we directly observe about fetal pain is very clear and unambiguous. Fetuses at 20 weeks post sperm-egg fusion have an increase in stress hormones in response to painful experiences that can be eliminated by appropriate anesthesia. Multiple studies clearly indicate “the human fetus from 18–20 weeks elaborates pituitary-adrenal, sympathoadrenal, and circulatory stress responses to physical insults.” All of these responses reflect a mature, body-wide response to pain.

Fetuses delivered prematurely, as early as 23 weeks, show clear pain-related behaviors. We know less about infants delivered prior to 23 weeks only because so few are available for study. Strikingly, the earlier infants are delivered, the stronger their response to pain. These and many other direct observations of fetal behavior and physiology have resulted in a clear consensus among professional anesthesiologists (highly specialized physicians who are experts in pain management) that the use of medications to relieve pain is warranted in cases of fetal surgery. Many of the advocates of fetal anesthesia make no claims regarding the qualitative nature of fetal pain, but based on both the scientific literature and on their own observations, they clearly conclude that pain exists for these fetuses and that as physicians they are obligated to address fetal pain medically …

Our own experience; Why fetal pain matters

Imposing pain on any pain-capable living creature is cruelty. And ignoring the pain experienced by another human individual for any reason is barbaric. We don’t need to know if a human fetus is self-reflective or even self-aware to afford it the same consideration we currently afford other pain-capable species. We simply have to decide whether we will choose to ignore the pain of the fetus or not.

From the perspective of neuroscience, it is unclear precisely what “psychological” aspects of a mature pain experience are in place at precisely what point in either human prenatal or postnatal development. It is impossible for me to know with certainty whether another adult, a teenager or a fetus experiences pain in precisely the same manner I do. Yet it is entirely uncontested that a fetus experiences pain in some capacity, from as early as 8 weeks of development. Moreover, most modern neuroscientists have concluded that the thalamic circuitry developed by 18 weeks post sperm-egg fusion is primarily responsible for human experience of pain at all stages of life.

Given that fetuses are members of the human species—human beings like us—they deserve the benefit of the doubt regarding their experience of pain and protection from cruelty under the law.

In light of the scientific facts, the observations of medical professionals, our own experience of pain, and our indirect experience of others’ pain, we must conclude that there is indeed a “compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.” And this unambiguously requires a 20 week fetus to be protected from pain, as proposed under H.R. 1797 [the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act].

Members of Congress should be contacted and urged to support the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

Editor’s note. These excerpts appeared at
[5 June 2013, Prof. Maureen L. Condic,]

3 Minute, 24 Seconds Video “Voyage” Depicts Amazing Development of Unborn Children

There is a kind of natural unfolding, or progression, of the baby’s development that reminds you how early a primitive heart develops. Interesting & artistic visual of human development.
Click link to watch video:
[ ]




Research: Unborn Babies Recognize, Process Speech at 29 Weeks

Fascinating new research shows that unborn children can recognize and process varying forms of speech at 29 weeks, even before speech centers appear. The processing is advanced enough, for example, to allow them to differentiate between male and female voices.

Keith Barrington, a neonatologist and clinical researcher and chief of service at Sainte Justine University Health Center in Montreal, writes more about the new study:

"The message of this article is that, even at 29 weeks gestation, , the preterm brain reacts differently to different phonemes (ba versus ga) and different voices (masculine versus feminine). That’s cool.

"Because at 29 weeks the neurons which will eventually form the centers involved in speech are still not at their final locations. The brain is still very immature at that point, and those parts of the brain that we usually expect to respond to speech have not been properly constituted. Language really is hard-wired into our brains."

Mahmoudzadeh M, Dehaene-Lambertz G, Fournier M, Kongolo G, Goudjil S, Dubois J, et al. Syllabic discrimination in premature human infants prior to complete formation of cortical layers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2013;110(12):4846-51.

If you take those preterm babies when they are adults, they seem to be processing language with different parts of the brain. Although their scores on standardized testing of language skills were the same as controls born at term, the preterm born adults were using pathways in their cerebellum to process language, but not the term born adults. Constable RT, Vohr BR, Scheinost D, Benjamin JR, Fulbright RK, Lacadie C, et al. A left cerebellar pathway mediates language in prematurely-born young adults. NeuroImage. 2013;64(0):371-8.

This seems to me to be new evidence of the plasticity of the brain, which develops differently if you are born very preterm, the average gestation of the subjects was 28 weeks. ;


Babies Can Read Each Others’ Moods by Five Months of Age, Study Finds

A new study shows that babies can detect and understand the emotional status of other babies at a younger age than ever believed.

A study published in the journal Infancy found that newborns can read the moods of their fellow infants by the time they are five months old.

Ross Flom of Brigham Young University studied 40 babies from Florida and Utah, playing a recording of another baby making happy or sad noises. The study group could see two monitors, one with a picture of a happy baby and the other with a sad child.

By five months, babies could match the sound they heard with the appropriate picture.

“These findings indicate that by 5 months of age, infants detect, discriminate, and match the facial and vocal affective displays of other infants,” the study's abstract states.

The babies' cries were not from the babies depicted on screen, something that strengthens Flom's findings that the matching took place due to rec

ognizing the cry's emotional content.

“Newborns can’t verbalize to their mom or dad that they are hungry or tired, so the first way they communicate is through affect or emotion,” Flom said. “These findings add to our understanding of early infant development by reiterating the fact that babies are highly sensitive to and comprehend some level of emotion.”

Previous studies have found that newborns can understand adult emotions by seven months.

Flom conducted the study, which was first published online in March, with Mariana Vaillant-Molina and Lorraine E. Bahrick, both of Florida International University.
[Ben Johnson  28 Jun 13, SALT LAKE CITY, June 27, 2013,]




Unborn Babies Learn Amazing Things Like Taste and Scent in the Womb

In the fall of 2011, science writer Annie Murphy Paul gave a lecture at a Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland that demonstrates with moving clarity that the unborn child is a person, capable of cognition and emotion from its very early stages.

Based on her book Origins, Murphy explains that the child in the womb absorbs all kinds of information that affects his or her life once born.  Here are some excerpts:

    First of all, they learn the sound of their mothers’ voices … And because the fetus is with her all the time, it hears her voice a lot. Once the baby’s born, it recognizes her voice and it prefers listening to her voice over anyone else’s …From the moment of birth, the baby responds most to the voice of the person who is most likely to care for it — its mother. It even makes its cries sound like the mother’s language, which may further endear the baby to the mother, and which may give the baby a head start in the critical task of learning how to understand and speak its native language.

In addition to sound, unborn babies also learn taste and scent:

    But it’s not just sounds that fetuses are learning about in utero. It’s also tastes and smells. By seven months of gestation, the fetus’ taste buds are fully developed, and its olfactory receptors, which allow it to smell, are functioning … They’re being introduced to the characteristic flavors and spices of their culture’s cuisine even before birth.

The baby’s mother has a profound bearing on the life of her child, biochemical but much more:

    Much of what a pregnant woman encounters in her daily life — the air she breathes, the food and drink she consumes, the chemicals she’s exposed to, even the emotions she feels — are shared in some fashion with her fetus. They make up a mix of influences as individual and idiosyncratic as the woman herself. The fetus incorporates these offerings into its own body, makes them part of its flesh and blood. And often it does something more. It treats these maternal contributions as information, as what I like to call biological postcards from the world outside …The pregnant woman’s diet and stress level in particular provide important clues to prevailing conditions like a finger lifted to the wind. The resulting tuning and tweaking of a fetus’ brain and other organs are part of what give us humans our enormous flexibility, our ability to thrive in a huge variety of environments, from the country to the city, from the tundra to the desert.

Ms. Paul inexplicably insists on calling the unborn baby “the fetus;” if he or she is not a baby, who cares what a “fetus” does and doesn’t know?  Regardless, she has done a tremendous service to all who care about the sanctity of unborn life.

“We are fearfully and wonderfully made,” writes the Psalmist, made in God’s image and likeness.  Doubt it?  Watch Annie Murphy Paul’s lecture and share in the spontaneous, humble joy that accompany the miracles of conception and birth. Rob Schwarzwalder is with the Family Research Council.
[4 June 13, Rob Schwarzwalder, DC,]

Babies In Womb Make Faces & Complex Expressions, Study Shows

Even as newborns, babies know exactly how to scrunch up their faces and cry. And no wonder — new research from England suggests that we practice making mean faces even before we're born.

Researchers at Durham and Lancaster universities found that even by 36 weeks of gestational age fetuses are able to grimace [ ] and make complex facial expressions — and this developmental stage may help doctors better gauge fetal health. Fascinating.

“This suggests that we can determine the normal development of facial movements [ ]and potentially identify abnormal development too," study co-author Dr. Nadja Reissland, a senior lecturer in Durham University’s psychology department, said in a written statement.

"Our research indicates that the expression of fetal facial movements is a developmental process which seems to be related to brain maturation rather than being linked to feelings."

The researchers studied 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses at 24 weeks making simple facial expressions, like a slight curl of the lips into a smile. Then they studied images of fetuses at 36 weeks making complex facial expressions, like a grimace of "pain."

The researchers think that making these faces prepares the fetus for learning how to communicate once out of the womb.
"It is vital for infants to be able to show pain as soon as they are born so that they can communicate any distress or pain they might feel to their carers," Reissland said in the statement, "and our results show that healthy fetuses ‘learn’ to combine the necessary facial movements before they are born."

While it's unclear whether a grimacing fetus is actually feeling pain, Reissland said, additional research may explore whether noxious conditions in the womb — for example, from the effects of smoking or alcohol consumption — may delay the development of these fetal facial expressions.
The new study, published June 5, 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE, extends previous research that first identified facial expressions in the womb [The Huffington Post,  Jacqueline Howard, Posted: 06/07/2013,]






Fascinating Discovery Shows Unborn Baby’s Cells Go to Mom’s Brain

A fascinating new discovery may help explain just how mothers and their unborn children are so interconnected and why the emot

ional bond between mother and child after birth is so strong.

From the Scientific American: The link between a mother and child is profound, and new research suggests a physical connection even deeper than anyone thought.

The profound psychological and physical bonds shared by the mother and her child begin during gestation when the mother is everything for the developing fetus, supplying warmth and sustenance, while her heartbeat provides a soothing constant rhythm.





Stunning New Process Creates 3-D Model of Your Unborn Child

A Japanese company is using a new process to create amazing 3-D models of unborn children. Using 3-D printing technology, the firm is allowing parents to move past the 3-D ultrasounds and pictures to have a realistic model of their unborn child they can hold in their hands.

From the story:

Fasotec, an engineering company and Parkside Hiroo Ladies clinic have teamed up to offer the service since July 30. The way it works is similar to an ultrasound, but in this case they use MRI scans. (X rays can be harmful to a developing fetus).

The next step is a technology called Bio-Texture modeling, which converts the MRI data and into a 3D image. A 3D printer builds up the three-dimensional image using two different resins that produce two different colors. The result is a fetus represented in a creamy color surrounded by the mother’s tissue, represented as transparent (see image above).

The resolution of the image isn’t perfect — but the clinics say that many expectant mothers are delighted by the service, which costs 100,000 yen (about $1,200 at current exchange rates), not including the cost of the MRI.

For those who would like a less-pricey version, the company will start offering a 3D model of the face of the fetus for half that price at 50,000 yen in December.

The technology is about more than providing mementos to mothers, though. Fasotec says the printer can output 3D models of organs, as well, which could be used to train physicians. In fact, the fetus-printing idea was a spin-off the company is using to publicize the more general organ-imaging it does.
[Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 11/28/12,]




Amazing 4-D Ultrasound Captures Baby Yawning in the Womb
A British doctor has capture an amazing 4-D ultrasound photo of a baby yawning in the womb. Fetal development pictures like this help people understand exactly what is taking place in an abortion — the destruction of human life.

These kinds of photos help people realize that the unborn baby before birth is a human being, whose features, personality and actions are rapidly developing.
Remainder of article —


What’s Behind the U.S. Fertility Drop?

The latest set of fertility figures from the Centers for Disease Control reinforce the point I have been making in my book talks: America’s fertility rate has been falling since the onset of the recession in 2008 – but comparisons to Europe’s demographic winter are premature.

A closer look reveals that the drop is coming in part from women in their 20s who may be waiting out the recession to decide whether to have a second or third child. If the next president is able to reverse the economic downturn in time to restore confidence, we may look back at this period as a dip without strategic consequences. Women in their 30s and 40s are not waiting. Their fertility rate has remained unchanged. Women in their mid-to-late 40s are having more children than before.

This is related to the fact that the age at which women have children has been rising for more than a generation. And immigration is down due to the recession, which has also led to fewer births by immigrants, who have in the past been a significant factor in America’s exceptionally higher fertility rates on average.

But Jonathan Last finds something eerily lurking in the numbers. He thinks the fact that the number of first births is down may be a sign that American women are on two diverging paths: those who have children and those who do not. As he points out, the social consequences may be unhappy ones.

[18 Oct 12, Susan Yoshihara, D.C.,, ; Reprinted from C-FAM.]






“Pretty Spectacular” Images of Fetal Development Available as iBook

Both NRLC Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon and myself have written glowing reviews of a book that transformed the way we understand fetal development: “From Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds.” The author is Alexander Tsiaras.

His work is amazing, but it is hard to give a name to what Tsiaras does.   He describes himself a scientist, an artist, and a journalist, but what he has done is to develop scanning and visualization software that enables him to develop rich, 4-D animations of different human body parts, organs, and processes.

Some of his most stunning work has been with fetal development.  He  catalogued his work in “Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds” (published in 2002)  and then animated this in a series of 40 videos – one for each week –on his website.

Just this morning I received an alert from that they were was launching a new iBook from Tsiaras: “Conception to Birth: The Visual Guide to Your Pregnancy” now available in the Apple iTunes Bookstore —

Granted this is a promotional blurb, but the description of the original book happens to be true.

“Ten years ago, with the publication of his book From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds, Alexander Tsiaras changed forever the way we perceive life inside the womb. Remarkable innovations in medical imaging technology allowed us to see, in stunning detail, the awe-inspiring process of life unfolding. The book’s vivid images revealed the many miracles of development: the heart’s first beats at 21 days, the tentative movements of minuscule arms and legs, the complexity of the brain’s growth throughout the 9 months.”

We’re told that Tsiaras continued to look for ways to make the data more accessible, more interactive, and more usable than allowed by the printed page.

Conception to Birth: The Visual Guide to Your Pregnancy has just been published as an iBook and in it “those amazing images” from the book “have been translated into a totally interactive format. Developed specifically for the iPad.” Meaning what?

“At the touch of a fingertip, videos can be viewed and 3D images rotated and examined in close-up detail. Text pops up to explain the causes of pregnancy symptoms. Deeper and deeper layers o

f embryonic and fetal anatomy can be peeled away. … In-depth, thoroughly researched text provides an enriching accompaniment to the visual imagery.”

I’m really excited about this, and my guess is many of our readers will be too. I’ve attached below a portion of Dr. O’Bannon’s original review of  a video that was (and is) circulating on the website features a fascinating talk by Tsiaras discussing his work with the fetal images at an INK conference in Lavasa, India, in December of 2010.

You can find it here —


“Looking at these two simple cells that have this kind of unbelievable machinery that will become the magic of you”

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research

The short fetal development video is stunning, as always, offering a shortened version of the series Tsiaras has on his website.  However his remarks add another level of interest as the scientist/artist/journalist offers his personal assessment of what he has seen.

Before showing the video, he mentions collagen.

… your entire body, everything –your hair, skin, bone, nails –everything is made of collagen. And it’s a kind of rope-like structure that twirls and swirls like this.  And the only place that collagen changes its structure is in the cornea of your eye. In your eye, it becomes a grid formation, and therefore, it becomes transparent, as opposed to opaque. So perfectly organized a structure, it was hard not to attribute divinity to it.  Because we kept on seeing this over and over and over again in different parts of the body.

The video excerpt that Tsiaras shares shows fertilization, the cell division that occurs every few hours thereafter, the development of the heart within the first month, the arms and hands and vertebrae early in the second month, the developing retina, nose and fingers before the month is over, and finally, even what birth looks like for the baby!

Once the video has run, Tsiaras comments, “as you can see, when you actually start working on this data, it’s pretty spectacular.”

… as we kept on scanning more and more, working on this project, looking at these two simple cells that have this kind of unbelievable machinery that will become the magic of you.  And as we kept on working on this data, looking at small clusters of the body, these little pieces of tissue that were a trophoblast coming off of a blastocyst, all of a sudden burrowing itself into the side of the uterus, saying, “I’m here to stay.” All of a sudden having conversation and communications with the estrogens, the progesterones, saying, “I’m here to stay, plant me,” building this incredible trilinear fetus that becomes, within 44 days, something that you can recognize, and then at nine weeks is really kind of a little human being. The marvel of this information: How do we actually have this biological mechanism inside our body to actually see this information?

Tsiaras discusses the development of the human heart, which, through “magnificent origami” of cells developing at a rate of what he says are “one million cells per second” folding in on themselves, goes from what he calls “basically two strands” at 25 days to the ventricles, atria, and valves of that essential marvelous human organ in the matter of a few weeks. Of “The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go” Tsiaras gushes, “the complexity of these mathematical models of how these things are indeed done are beyond human comprehension.”

To make his point, Tsiaras shows a photo of human capillaries.

Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us? It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity. Then you start to take a look at adult life. Take a look at this little tuft of capillaries. It’s just a tiny sub-substructure, microscopic. But basically by the time you’re nine months and you’re given birth, you have almost 60,000 miles of vessels inside your body. I mean, and only one mile is visible.  59,999 miles that are basically bringing nutrients and taking waste away. The complexity of building that within a single system is, again, beyond any comprehension or any existing mathematics today.

Tsiaras is clearly amazed by what he has seen as he has studied and catalogued and analyzed the development of the unborn child.

By all means go to the websites, take a look for yourself and you will be amazed, too.  And share it with anyone struggling to decide whether the life they carry within is worth bearing.

As Tsiaras shows, the development of every single human life is “pretty spectacular.”
Alexander Tsiaras, Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds, Conception to Birth: The Visual Guide to Your Pregnancy, fetal development

Check this link:

[October 17, 2012, Dave Andrusko,]





Infant Mortality Rate in Alabama Falls to an All-Time Low in 2011

The Alabama Department of Public Health announces that the infant mortality rate of 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 is the lowest ever recorded in the state. This represents 481 infants, the lowest number ever — which died before reaching 1 year of age.

Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer, said, “Historically, Alabama’s infant mortality rate has been among the highest in the nation and we must continue to address this challenging public health issue. Positive trends we are seeing include fewer teenage pregnancies and less smoking among pregnant women, and we hope to sustain these improvements in the coming years.”

"Lowering Alabama's infant mortality rate is a critical part of our efforts to improve public health in Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. "We are encouraged by news that our rate is the lowest it has ever been, and we will work to continue our progress.”

Several other indicators of record progress are found in this year’s statistics, especially with regard to teen births. The percent of births to teenagers in 2011 was 11.3 (6,697), the lowest ever recorded. Another record low was the percent of births to young teens, defined as less than 18 years old, which fell to 3.5 percent of live births, (2,076 births).

The percentage of teenage mothers who smoked (10.8) and the percent of older mothers who smoked (10.6) are the lowest in the past decade. Mothers who smoke have a 20 percent higher infant mortality rate than do nonsmoking mothers.

Accompanying the decrease in teen births has been a decline in the number of teen abortions from 1,644 in 2009, to 1,466 in 2010, and 1,318 in 2011.

A number of risk factors affect birth outcomes. Abstinence and family planning allow for delayed childbirth including appropriate spacing between births. Infant mortality was higher for mothers with birth intervals less than two years (8.5) versus those with a two-or-more-year interval (6.8) between births.

Reducing the number of preterm births can reduce
costs for neonatal intensive care. Low birth weight infants, defined as those weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, are about 20 times more likely to die than infants of normal weight.

The percent of mothers with adequate prenatal care was similar for both blacks and whites in 2011. While 73.0 percent of all white women had adequate care, 69.4 percent of black women had adequate care. Over the past 12 years the percentage of mothers whose deliveries are paid for by Medicaid has grown from 45 to 53 percent.

Despite progress that marks the lowest infant mortality rates ever recorded among both black and white mothers in Alabama, disparities remain in pregnancy outcomes.

·        The 2011 infant mortality rate for black infants of 13.0 per 1,000 live births was above the 2010 national rate for blacks of 11.6.
·        Alabama’s 2011 white infant mortality rate of 6.1 continues to be above the national rate of 5.2 for whites in 2010.
“To sustain our advances, we are considering strategies such as initiatives to reduce the number of preterm births,” Dr. Williamson said. “We also need to limit elective deliveries when gestation is less than 39 weeks.”

The counties with the lowest three-year infant mortality rates, 2009-2011, were Lamar, 2.3; Choctaw, 2.7; and Henry, 3.5. The highest counties were Coosa, 18.1; Bibb, 13.8; Greene, 13.8; and Tallapoosa, 13.8.

Graphs and detailed charts are available at the Alabama Department of Public Health website at
[9/19/12 News Release, ADPH, Office of Women's Health, Montgomery, Alabama,]


An important factor that is helping to lower infant morbidity and mortality is postponing Elective Deliveries until after 39 weeks gestation.

A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, and to electively cut that important gestational time short can be dangerous for the child. 

Even in that last week, many important processes of fetal development take place… That is why the onset of labor should be determined by the child him/herself, when everything is truly ready to be presented.

It is analogous to a great work of art or symphony, which will not be made public until it is as perfect as possible… the child is becoming as developed as possible, and needs every natural moment to complete the process.

To cut that time short is to interfere with this development, which can cause major problems later in life for the child.








Healthy Teeth Help Moms Get Pregnant, Fight Low Birth-Weight Deliveries, Says San Antonio Cosmetic Dentist
From fertility – the ability to become pregnant – to protecting the baby from premature birth, low birth weight, and even neonatal death, recent research shows that gum disease is a vital concern from conception through breastfeeding, according to veteran San Antonio cosmetic dentist Dr. Edward Camacho, DDS.

"Poor oral health is usually the last thing most women would suspect in having adverse affects on getting pregnant or having a baby with low birth weight"

From getting pregnant to avoiding premature births and low birth weights, and even neonatal death, recent research shows that gum disease is a critical issue for would-be moms, according to veteran San Antonio cosmetic dentist Edward Camacho, DDS.

The links between gum disease and such serious, life-threatening conditions as heart disease, diabetes and other systemic diseases are well-established. It’s less well-known, however, that researchers in recent years have discovered strong links between pregnancy and oral health.

“While we are concerned about any ongoing infection and its impact on health, research is showing how important it is to have healthy teeth and gums throughout the pregnancy timeline,” Dr. Camacho said, noting that a visit to the dentist is an important part of the preparation for pregnancy and the prenatal period. “If a patient is pregnant or trying to get pregnant we do counsel them on the need for good oral hygiene including professional cleanings.”

Effects on fertility

Women with gum disease take an average of two months longer to become pregnant than those with healthy teeth and gums, according to a major new research study by Dr. Roger Hart, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Western Australia. The study of about 3500 women was reported at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology at the beginning of July 2011.

Hart found that the women without gum disease took an average of 5 months to get pregnant, while those with gum disease took 7 months. When separated by race, non-Caucasian women with gum disease took over a year to get pregnant.

“All women should . . . be encouraged to see their dentist to have any gum disease treated before trying to conceive. It is easily treated, usually involving no more than four dental visits,” Hart said. He also said that studies show that the treatment of periodontal disease does not harm mothers or babies.

Premature births, low birth weights

Researchers have found that gum disease is a significant factor in premature births and low birth weights, which have risen about 20 percent over the past two decades. A University of North Carolina Hospital study publicized in early 2010 showed that women with gum disease are seven times more likely to have low-birth weight infants that those with healthy teeth.

Complicating dental care during pregnancy is that hormonal changes in the mother make it highly likely she will develop some level of gum disease. Scientists estimate that between half to three-quarters of all pregnant women develop “pregnancy gingivitis,” which in turn can affect the pregnancy itself. This makes it crucial that pregnant women continue with regular dental visits and cleanings, Camacho said.

An early delivery or a low birth weight – defined as less than 5 pounds 8 ounces – increases risks of a number of conditions harmful to the child, including respiratory distress, bleeding in the brain, heart and intestinal problems, and serious eye problems.

And there may be even more serious issues with gum disease and prenatal health. While scientists say there is no cause for immediate alarm, in a case in 2010, researchers for the first time have definitely linked a mother’s gum disease to the death of her unborn child. Officials said the bacteria from the diseased gums entered the blood system through broken skin, and was carried to the fetus. The exact strain from the mother’s gums was found in the dead baby’s lungs and stomach.

"Poor oral health is usually the last thing most women would suspect in having adverse affects on getting pregnant or having a baby with low birth weight,” Dr. Camacho said. “The mindset that the teeth don't really have anything to do overall health is slowly going by the wayside. As a dentist it is part of my job to educate patien

ts about oral health and it is my commitment as a health practitioner to provide patients with data on overall wellness." ; San Antonio, TX (PRWEB) July 24, 2011

Links to Zinc: Nutrition Expert Finds Tie Between Trace Mineral, Birth Weights

June 22nd, 2009 – Filed under: Health | Tagged: Human Development, Journals
Women receiving zinc supplements, in a study by Neggers and her colleagues, delivered babies 150 grams heavier than those not receiving the supplements. (Zach Riggins)

Women receiving zinc supplements, in a study by Neggers and her colleagues, delivered babies 150 grams heavier than those not receiving the supplements. (Zach Riggins)
High Quality Photo

By Michael Washington

When Dr. Yasmin Neggers began her latest study of how zinc levels in expectant mothers affect birth weight – a key factor in infant mortality – she hoped for a significant outcome.

Imagine her and her associates’ surprise upon finding that low blood zinc levels in expectant mothers increased the risk of low birth weight by approximately eight times.

These results may be significant for states like Alabama where infant mortality rates are above the national average. Some of this state’s counties have infant mortality rates higher than that of some third-world countries where residents’ overall health status is poor.

Zinc, a trace mineral found naturally in the body, was known to aid in cell development and growth. Higher levels of zinc are promoted by a healthy, balanced diet including meats, dairy and whole grains. However, there was little research that directly linked zinc to specific growth outcomes, and scientists are still debating the healthy levels of trace elements needed in the human body.

“At the time that I began working on my dissertation, research on zinc was just emerging yet no one knew for sure how essential it was for humans,” says Neggers, professor of human nutrition and hospitality management at The University of Alabama. “The link between zinc and cell growth was in the news, some research was already done that implied zinc was maybe linked to low birth weight, and I knew that low birth weight in Alabama was a big problem.”

The Problem

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a baby has low birth weight when he or she weighs less than 2,500 grams or 5 pounds, 8 ounces. One in 14 babies born in the U.S. is affected, and Alabama is above the national rate with about one in ten cases. Those numbers have not significantly declined in Alabama since the mid-1980s, especially among African-American women and women of low-income backgrounds.
Women receiving zinc supplements, in a study by Neggers and her colleagues, delivered babies 150 grams heavier than those not receiving the supplements. (Samantha Hernandez)

People of low economic status and African Americans seem most affected by low birth weights, according to the UA researcher. (Samantha Hernandez)
High Quality Photo

Low birth weight babies are at increased risk for serious health problems, including underdeveloped lungs and death. While recent advances in newborn medical care have greatly reduced the number of low birth weight deaths, a small percentage of survivors develop mental retardation, learning problems, cerebral palsy, and vision and hearing loss.

So Neggers began searching, in partnership with Drs. Robert Goldenberg and William Andrews of the University of Alabama at Birmingham department of obstetrics and gynecology, for a tangible link between the cell-building trace mineral and birth weight.

The Research

The research conducted by Neggers and her UAB associates came following a series of previous studies the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences faculty member had conducted. In the latest effort, the researchers focused on the populations that seemed most affected by low birth weight.

“Women of low socio-economic status are more likely to have lower levels of zinc intake and zinc blood levels,” says Neggers. “Also, it is unclear why, but African-Americans tend to have lower birth weights than Caucasians. So, we looked in populations where low birth weight was more common and low intake of zinc might also be common.”

The participants of the study were expectant mothers visiting the women’s health clinic at UAB. They came from the Black Belt of Alabama and the areas around UAB.

“The women visiting that clinic were from low-income backgrounds and had no other healthcare. This made following our subjects convenient since they attended this clinic throughout pregnancy,” says Neggers.
In her research Neggers seeks tangible links between zinc and birth weights. (Samanta Hernandez)

In her research Neggers seeks tangible links between zinc and birth weights. (Samantha Hernandez)
High Quality Photo

In previous work, Neggers found a correlation between blood zinc levels and birth weight while analyzing blood taken from women throughout pregnancy. The latest results not only supported the original assumption, but extended it.

“We separated the blood zinc levels into four quartiles, lowest to highest. We were surprised to find that after adjusting for other factors associated with low birth weight, women having low blood zinc levels, compared to women with normal zinc levels, were eight times more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies. We expected that maybe the prevalence of low birth weight would be somewhat higher, but not eight times,” says Neggers. “We became more interested since low birth weight is a major predictor of infant mortality.”

For the current study, Neggers and her associates conducted a clinical trial to find if supplementing zinc affects birth weight.

“It was a double blind trial. We gave 30 mg of supplemental zinc to indigent women. The groups were randomized with the only variable being one group got minerals and vitamins, and the other group got minerals and vitamins, plus a zinc supplement. We then followed them for nine months, each woman returning to the clinic four times throughout pregnancy. We measured their blood levels and dietary intake, and kept account of whatever else they were doing,” says Neggers. “We found that there were significant differences in their birth weight.”

All other factors in both groups – including age, race, socio-economic status and dietary zinc levels – were the same. The only difference in the groups was the addition of a zinc supplement. The group that received the zinc supplement gave birth to babies 150 grams (about 5.3 ounces) heavier than the babies of the group not receiving the supplement.

“That difference may not seem like a lot, but having low birth weight is weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces),” says Neggers. “For small infants, 150 grams really make a difference. We also found, interestingly, that thinner women with low blood zinc levels who took the zinc supplement had a better result – up to 250 grams increase in the baby’s weight. A 10 percent increase is very good.”

Fortunately, it has become standard practice in the U.S. to advise expectant mothers of the importance in taking prenatal vitamins. Neggers says taking the vitamins and minerals recommended by a doctor will adequately cover the needed dosage to encourage healthier birth weights. However, not everyone has access, whether those limitations involve finances, insurance coverage or lack of knowledge.

“This research is of most importance to those Alabama counties and other countries where zi

nc intake is low to begin with and women are not given multivitamins during pregnancy,” says Neggers. “But if you are at high risk of having low zinc levels due to a factor like poor diet, then taking a supplement is very important.”

Amazing BBC Video Shows Development of Human Face in the Womb

Every pro-life advocate fully understands the amazing way in which the human body develops in the womb as a little boy or little girl undergoes the first weeks and months of life.

A video the BBC produced about the development of the human face in the womb has captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of people across the Internet in recent days.
For Remainder of Article —





Babies in Womb Pick Up Linguistic Traits of Their Mothers

Dr. Kathleen Wermke of the University of Wurzburg recently reviewed a study concerning how babies in the womb are able to pick up certain linguistic traits from their mothers. The study analyzed the cry patterns of 30 German and French babies in the first five days of their lives. What Dr. Wermke found was that there was a distinct difference between the Gallic twang of the German babies and the low cry that gradually rose in French babies.

What this study suggests is that in the last three month of pregnancy, babies are able to connect and pick up the sound of their mother’s voices… even from outside of the womb.

After reading this article, I quickly called my aunt who is 6 months pregnant and told her to keep talking to little Noah in Vietnamese. It’s wonderful to know that our language and dialect can be instilled in the next generation.

This study further suggests that babies are living and learning while still in the womb.

To read more about this study click here:
Babies Cry in Their 'Mother Tongue' —
Current Biology,
[8 Feb 12, Helen Nguyen, Coordinator, Medical Students for Life of America

Current Biology,
Newborns' Cry Melody Is Shaped by Their Native Language
Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 23, 1994-1997, 05 November 2009, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.09.064; Authors: Birgit Mampe, Angela D. Friederici, Anne Christophe and Kathleen Wermke

    Human fetuses are able to memorize auditory stimuli from the external world by the last trimester of pregnancy, with a particular sensitivity to melody contour in both music and language [1,2,3].

Newborns prefer their mother's voice over other voices [4,5,6,7,8] and perceive the emotional content of messages conveyed via intonation contours in maternal speech (“motherese”) [9].

Their perceptual preference for the surrounding language [10,11,12] and their ability to distinguish between prosodically different languages [13,14,15] and pitch changes [16] are based on prosodic information, primarily melody. Adult-like processing of pitch intervals allows newborns to appreciate musical melodies and emotional and linguistic prosody [17]. Although prenatal exposure to native-language prosody influences newborns' perception, the surrounding language affects sound production apparently much later [18].

Here, we analyzed the crying patterns of 30 French and 30 German newborns with respect to their melody and intensity contours.

The French group preferentially produced cries with a rising melody contour, whereas the German group preferentially produced falling contours. The data show an influence of the surrounding speech prosody on newborns' cry melody, possibly via vocal learning based on biological predispositions.

Flawed Miscarriage Diagnosis Criteria May Lead to Abortion of Healthy Babies: Study

According to a report published in the international journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, current ultrasound scan guidelines used to determine if a woman has had a miscarriage are inadequate and unreliable, and following these guidelines may result in healthy and wanted pregnancies being aborted.

Advanced Reproductive Age and Fertility: Abstract


To improve awareness of the natural age-related decline in female and male fertility with respect to natural fertility and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and provide recommendations for their management, and to review investigations in the assessment of ovarian aging.


The outcomes measured are the predictive value of ovarian reserve testing and pregnancy rates with natural and assisted fertility.


Published literature was retrieved through searches of PubMed or Medline, CINAHL, and The Cochrane Library in June 2010, using appropriate key words (ovarian aging, ovarian reserve, advanced maternal age, advanced paternal age, ART). Results were restricted to systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials/controlled clinical trials, and observational studies. There were no date or language restrictions. Searches were updated on a regular basis and incorporated into the guideline to December 2010.

The quality of evidence was rated using the criteria described in the Report of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. Recommendations for practice were ranked according to the method described in that report (Table).

Primary and specialist health care providers and women will be better informed about ovarian aging and the age-related decline in natural fertility…

Pre-conception counselling regarding the risks of pregnancy with advanced maternal age, promotion of optimal health and weight, and screening for concurrent medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes should be considered for women > age 40. (III-B) 9.

Advanced paternal age appears to be associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and increased frequency of some autosomal dominant conditions, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia. Men > age 40 and their partners should be counselled about these potential risks when they are seeking pregnancy, although the risks remain small. (II-2C).

PMID:  22082792 [PubMed – in process]
[; J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2011 Nov;33(11):1165-75; Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Committee; Family Physicians Advisory Committee; Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Committee; Executive and Council of the Society of Obstetricians, Liu K, Case A.]