Amazing Images Show How Baby's Heart Forms in Utero

The bulk of development only takes four days.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Sep 2017
cross section of baby's heart in utero
Photo: University of Leeds

You know how eagerly you look at baby’s heartbeat during each ultrasound? Get ready for an even clearer picture. Using MRI technology, specifically-written algorithms and 3D computer software, researchers from the University of Leeds have better visualized baby’s heart during the peak of its formation.

The craziest part? The major developmental changes in the heart take place over the course of four days during your second trimester, starting around 124 days into pregnancy.

This is a fetal heart at day 124:

Photo: University of Leeds

And this is a fetal heart at day 128:

Photo: University of Leeds

Muscle tissue rapidly organizes within this time frame to form the heart’s four chambers. This is essential for survival outside the womb. Researchers say it’s also essential to understanding how to nip heart problems in the bud.

“We now have a map that we can use to interpret problems during development and look at ways of trying to resolve those problems,” says lead investigator Eleftheria Pervolaraki, PhD.

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