New Study Shows Unborn Babies Can Recognize Faces While Still In the Womb

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 9, 2017   |   6:31PM   |   Washington, DC

Scientists continue to discover new and amazing things about unborn babies’ capabilities.

A British study published Thursday found that babies in the womb appear to recognize and react to faces before they ever see one, USA Today reports.

Researchers at Lancaster University in England projected patterns of lights through the uterus of pregnant moms and watched to see if their unborn babies reacted. They found that unborn babies in the third trimester turned their faces and reacted to three dots configured like the eyes and mouth of a face, but they did not react to the three dots when they were turned upside-down and appeared less like a face.

“We do know that human infants at birth show a preference to engage with a top-heavy, face-like stimulus when contrasted with all other forms of stimuli,” the researchers wrote. “However, … [t]he current study suggests that postnatal experience is not required for this preference.”

Here’s more from the report:

“We have shown the fetus can distinguish between different shapes, preferring to track face-like over non-face-like shapes,” said psychologist Vincent Reid of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, a co-author of the study. “This preference has been recognized in babies for many decades, but until now exploring fetal vision has not been attempted.”

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The findings, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology, were also the first to show it’s possible to explore sight and cognition in babies before birth.

The experiment of projecting light through the uterine wall also was new, and the researchers said they proceeded cautiously to make sure they were not damaging the unborn babies’ health.

“We were very careful and made sure that the light was bright enough to enter the womb but not too bright as to be unpleasant or aversive for the fetus,” Reid said.

In the past decade, dozens of studies have revealed fascinating new details about babies’ development before birth. These findings demonstrate that unborn babies are much more than just the blobs of tissue or “potential” persons that abortion activists claim they are. These unborn babies already are unique, living human beings who likely learn, dream and develop tastes for specific foods.

In 2014, a University of Florida research team found that unborn babies have the capability to learn. The team had mothers repeat nursery rhymes to their unborn babies between 28 weeks and 34 weeks of pregnancy. Four weeks later, the researchers monitored the babies’ reactions as a stranger read one group of unborn babies the same nursery rhyme and another group a new rhyme. The babies who listened to the same nursery rhyme reacted as if they recognized the rhyme, according to researchers.

Last year, research from the University of Oxford found that an unborn baby’s heart may begin beating even earlier than originally thought. The heartbeat is one of the first things an unborn baby develops, and it usually is detectable by six weeks of pregnancy. However, the Oxford researchers found that the heartbeat may begin as early as 16 days after conception.

Other studies suggest that unborn babies dream during the last trimester and begin learning their native language.