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New Technology: Tracking Baby’s Brain Development In Utero

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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated March 2, 2017
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Science is getting better at understanding baby’s development in utero. The latest advancement? Viennese researchers can pinpoint when your baby develops the ability to see.

Using  functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRT), which is a technique that measures brain activity, researchers from the Computational Imaging Research Lab at the Medical University of Vienna were able to identify active short-range neuronal connections within the brain of a fetus 26 to 29 weeks old. These connections, paired with the more steadily-advancing long-range neuronal connections found at that stage, indicate that the part of the brain responsible for sight is active.

“It became apparent that the areas responsible for sensory perception are developed first and only then, around four weeks later, do the areas responsible for more complex, cognitive skills come along,” said study author Andras Jakab after observing 32 fetuses from the 21st to 38th week of pregnancy.

Sure, a vague understanding of when baby can see is interesting, but how does this study have a real impact on pregnant women? The ability to track fetal brain development and gauge what’s normal means doctors will be better able to detect (and treat) issues in unborn babies. And that means you’ll be able to breathe easier.

Did you have any out-of-the-ordinary tests during pregnancy?

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