Sex & Relationships

A new technology can print photos of an unborn baby's face

A new 3-D software adds skin texture, shadows and lighting to show parents their baby's face, expressions and colouring.

What do we know about fetal development? Not as much as we think. Recent advances in ultrasound technology and medical science are only serving to highlight the depth of our ignorance.

Thanks to software developed by a French researcher (via The Daily Mail) that enhances 3-D ultrasound technology, expectant parents can now see their developing offspring in colour. Ultrasounds that use such technology (see the amazing images here) and incorporate colour and movement into the images, reveal incredible detail.

Not only can parents-to-be see their baby’s face, but they can also witness their baby’s changing expression. The technology, which also offers doctors increased ability to perceive any potential health trouble, has also revealed a few interesting facts about life in the womb. For example, this kind of imaging has captured babies crying in utero, smiling, rubbing their eyes, and even yawning. Moreover, images of unborn babies opening their eyes at 18 weeks has challenged conventional beliefs that such actions didn’t occur until 26 weeks.

As a result of this advance in technology, some researchers have concluded that fetal development consists of more complex human behaviours than previously believed.

At the same time, babies who are born prematurely are surviving at stages of early development once thought impossible.

In 2006, Amillia Taylor was delivered via emergency C-section just shy of 22 weeks. The little girl weighed only 283 grams and measured at only 24 centimetres. And yet, she survived.

Amillia, who is now enrolled in kindergarten, reportedly only has a few developmental delays and physical limitations as a result of her birth.

Cases such as Amillia’s and the advances in ultrasound technology are pushing the boundaries that once existed around fetal survival, health and human knowledge ever-forward. How the information is used by doctors, expectant parents and those engaged in ongoing debates about the ethics of abortion, remains to be seen.

One thing is certain, however, there’s much more to learn. Anyone who argues otherwise isn’t just pushing a suspect agenda, but is favouring ignorance and arrogance over the virtues of intelligence and humility.