Fetal Development

As technology advances and gives us a better view inside the womb, scientists have been amazed to discover what actually happens during a pregnancy and how early in the pregnancy some developments occur.  We want to list a few of the more amazing findings.  (with footnotes)

1. Three weeks after conception the baby’s heart begins to beat and pump blood.(1)

Development at 6 weeks after conception

6 wks after conception

2. At six weeks after conception, the baby has brain waves that can be measured with an electroencephalogram.(2)  According to the medical profession, life is defined as the presence of brain waves, and death as the cessation of brain waves.  According to this definition the fetus can be proven to be alive.

3. At seven weeks after conception, the baby begins swimming freely in the amniotic sac, though the mother is not aware of the movement until much later.(3)

11 wks after conception

11 wks after conception

4. At twelve weeks after conception, a baby has developed all the body parts required to experience pain, including all of the nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus.(4)

Kenya King Born at 19 Weeks

Kenya King - 19 wks

5. Kenya King was born June 16, 1985 at 19 weeks after conception, weighing only 18 ounces, and survived.  Medical technology continues to advance, making possible even smaller surviving infants.(5)


(1). Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human, p. 310.

Lennart Nilsson and Lars Hamberger, A Child is Born, (New York, NY: Delacorte Press/Seymore Lawrence), p. 86.

Rugh and Shettles, From Conception to Birth, p. 217.

(2). Hannibal Hamlin, M.D., “Life or Death by EEG,” Journal of American Medical Association (October 12, 1964), p. 113.

(3). Valman and Pearson, “What the Fetus Feels,” British Medical Journal, p. 234.

Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human, 5th edition, pp.95-96, 304.

(4). Landrum B. Shettles, M.D., Ph.D. with David Rorvik, Rites of Life, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), p. 62.

Daniel N. Robinson, Ph.D., testimony, hearing on fetal pain, U.S. Congress, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, May 21, 1985.

“Why Pain Hurts: Unlocking an Agonizing Mystery,” TIME, vol. 123, no. 24 (June 11, 1984), p. 61.

Arthur C. Guyton, M.D., Textbook on Medical Physiology, 6th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders C., 1981), p. 615.

(5). Mona Z. Browne, “19-week preemie wins life struggle,” Miami Herald, October 4, 1985, p. 1A.

Gina Kolata, “Survival of the Fetus: A Barrier is Reached,” New York Times, (March 18, 1989), p. C1.