A study of ultrasound scans done by researchers from Durham and Lancaster University suggests that the foetus learns how to communicate after birth by crying or grimacing in the womb itself. The foetus tries to make expressions from smiling to more complex expressions like lowering eyebrow and wrinkling nose. The lead researcher, Dr Nadja Reissland, said that understanding the normal development of the foetus could help the doctor identify any problems. She said that it is not yet clear neither whether the foetuses can really feel pain nor if the facial expressions are related to how they feel.
The research pointed out that facial movements were related to the brain’s maturity instead of the actual feeling that the foetus must be experiencing. To do the study, the researchers looked at video footages of 4D scans of over 8 female and 7 male foetuses. This study follows the previous researches that suggest that facial expressions of the healthy foetuses develop and become more complex at the time of pregnancy. Dr Reissland added that "It is vital for infants to be able to show pain as soon as they are born so that they can communicate any distress or pain they might feel to their carers."
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