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Foetus doesn’t feel pain before 24 weeks

Before 24 weeks, unborn babies in the womb cannot feel pain as nerves are not yet developed

Posted: 25 June 2010
by Kimberley Smith
Scan
Before 24 weeks nerves are not developed enough to register pain

A foetus growing in the womb cannot feel pain before 24 weeks, researchers from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have found. Before this time, nerve endings in growing foetuses are not yet developed enough to work as pain receptors so pain signals do not reach the baby’s brain. The baby is also in a “continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation”, unaware of it’s environment, say researchers.

This information could affect essential medical treatments performed on unborn babies. Doctors will be able to make decisions about their methods such as the use of anesthetic for surgery during pregnancy.

The findings also suggest that the question of foetal pain could be removed from the abortion debate and may help reassure women who abort their babies for medical reasons.


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