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         May 2017


Unborn babies could feel pain in first trimester

It has been scientifically proven, and is generally accepted, that unborn babies can experience pain at 20 weeks. But now new research seems to suggest that an unborn baby's nervous system develops earlier than previously believed and this could challenge the assumption that unborn babies do not feel pain in the early weeks of their development.

A study published in the Journal Cell on 23rd March 2017 reveals that the nervous system of embryos and fetuses may develop much earlier than previously thought. The study titled 'Tridimensional Visualization and Analysis of Early Human Development' states that, even during the first trimester, unborn babies have “adult-like” nerve patterns. Researchers have found that "the adult-like pattern of skin innervation is established before the end of the first trimester, showing important intra- and inter-individual variations in nerve branches.” (As quoted by SPUC)

It is still not possible to establish whether this early development of the nervous system could cause unborn babies in the first trimester to feel pain but this new information could suggest pain sensitivity much earlier than previously thought. Also, some research suggests that fetal pain may be more intense earlier in the pregnancy because the maturation of fetal neurophysiology is uneven at this stage.