Science Catches Up with Religion

Researchers prove fetuses have memories, know mothers’ voices, and have sense of taste, touch and smell

(Remnant News Watch August 31, 2009)

Mark Alessio

24-Week-Old Fetus

(Posted 08/28/09 They weigh less than 3 pounds, usually, and are perhaps 15 inches long. But “they can remember,” reports Jennifer Harper of The Washington Times (July 16, 2009):

The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation – or about two months before they are born.

"In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later," said the research, which was released Wednesday.

These findings were obtained by scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre at St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, after a study employing “gentle but precise” sensory stimulation was made of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses:

On five occasions during the last eight weeks of their pregnancies, the women received a series of one-second buzzes on their bellies with a "fetal vibroacoustic stimulator," a hand-held diagnostic device used to gauge an unborn baby's heart rate and general well-being.

The baby's responses – primarily eye, mouth and body movements – were closely monitored over the weeks with ultrasound imaging to gauge "fetal learning" patterns. The researchers found that the babies acclimated themselves to the sounds and vibrations to the point that they no longer bothered to respond – a process known as "habituation." "The stimulus is then accepted as 'safe' " by the babies, the study said.

In addition, the researchers discovered that the babies’ recognition skills improved as they grew older. Fetuses in the 34 to 36 week age group became “familiar with the hum outside the womb”:

"It seems like every day we find out marvelous new things about the development of unborn children. We hope that this latest information helps people realize more clearly that the unborn are members of the human family with amazing capabilities and capacities like these built in from the moment of conception," said Randall K. O'Bannon, director of education and research for the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.

Comment: The precedent for this recent, and important, study in fetal learning was set in 1925 by German scientist A. Peiper. Peiper’s method involved sounding a car horn near the abdomen of a woman in a late-term pregnancy, which resulted in fetal movement. Upon repetition of the sound, the movement diminished as the fetus became habituated to it.

Since then, research has told us more about life in the womb than the pro-abortion fanatics would want us to know.

In his article, “Unraveling Our Beginnings: On the Embryonic Science of Fetal Psychology,” which appeared in the August, 2005 issue of The Psychologist (published by the British Psychological Society), Dr. Peter Hepper summarized these findings, which include:

- “By eight weeks of gestation the fetus responds to touch around the lips and cheeks. By 14 weeks most of its body, excluding the back and top of the head, responds to touch. The fetus touches its face from 10–11 weeks and contact with the umbilical cord and uterine wall, and possibly other womb mates, provides tactile stimulation.”

- “Handedness is observed from 10 weeks of gestation.”

- “Flavors from the mother’s diet pass into the amniotic fluid, so when the fetus begins to swallow this fluid, around the 12th week of gestation, it may experience the flavors of its mother’s diet. By 15–16 weeks the fetus responds to the flavor of the amniotic fluid swallowing more if the fluid tastes sweet but less if it tastes ‘bitter’.”

- “The uterine environment of the fetus is quite noisy. The mother’s heartbeat, blood flow and digestive system all contribute to the fetus’s auditory world. Sounds from the external world can be heard, although with some attenuation by the mother’s tissues .... Newborns prefer their mother’s voice to that of an unfamiliar female, a preference that is acquired prenatally. Newborns prefer music they have heard prenatally to that which they have never heard.”

Dr. Hepper prefaced his paper with this quotation from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “The history of man for the nine months preceding his birth would, probably, be far more interesting and contain events of greater moment than for all the three score and ten years that follow it.” He also makes this observation:

Early views of the fetus portrayed its environment as one of sensory deprivation. Research has revised this view and demonstrated that the fetus has considerable sensory abilities. The only sense unlikely to be stimulated naturally in the womb is that of vision, as the mother’s clothes and tissue will block out light .... The fetus is continually active in and reactive to its environment.

Once again, science catches up to religion! In the Sacred Scriptures, we read that the Lord told Jeremias, “Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and made thee a prophet unto the nations.” We read of the preborn John the Baptist, “And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb.”

In short, we view the unborn person as just that – a person. And what do the scientists tell us? They tell us that a preborn infant is “continually active in and reactive to its environment.” These infants learn about their environment by touching it. They learn about their small, warm world by smell and taste. They learn to love their mother’s voice.

The Washington Times article cited above also mentions a 2003 study undertaken by Queen's University in Canada. A study of 60 pregnant women showed that “unborn babies preferred the voices of their own mothers – both before and after birth.” The psychologists and obstetricians involved in this study found that the heart rates of fetuses sped up when they heard their mother reading a poem, but slowed down when they heard a stranger's voice, evidence of "sustained attention, memory and learning by the fetus," according to Barbara Kisilevsky, a professor of nursing who led the research.

Adult human beings love to prattle on about “growth” – creative growth, psychological growth, etc. A lousy job may have been useful because it helped someone “grow.” A person leaving a bad relationship claims that the experience helped her “grow.” All well and good. So why will the pro-abortion crowd not allow preborn infants to “grow?”
And that’s just what these babies do. They grow. From the first moment of their conception, they grow, they develop. They move, taste and become attached to the voices they hear.

Yet, in the face of these facts, what do the pro-aborts do? They look for loopholes! They want to know when the baby first experiences pain. They want to know when the fetus becomes “sustainable.” Yes, they even claim (though they could care less, as their real concern is convenience, not metaphysics), to be concerned about “when life begins.”

The truth is, the pro-abortionist is completely out of touch with science – and intellectual “progress” – on this one. No, the womb is not a small “sensory deprivation” tank, where a glob of tissue waits around to become magically “human,” like Pinocchio. It is a place where the infant prepares for life on earth. Fetal movement helps in the formation of joints and muscle tone. Hearing speech from the womb is a preparation for the development of language. Recognition of the mother’s voice and smell help to orient the newborn in a new environment. Everything counts.

“The history of man for the nine months preceding his birth would, probably, be far more interesting and contain events of greater moment than for all the three score and ten years that follow it,” wrote Coleridge. We can be glad that science is once again making known what the Church has always known – i.e., that each and every second of an infant’s life in the womb is important, vital and worthy of every consideration and protection.



- Satan Must be Taken Seriously, Says Mexican Cardinal

"We are in a crucial time for the Church. We must use the Word to denounce all that is not of God: witchcraft, spiritualism, magic folk medicine, religion of African origin, esotericism, horoscopes, fortune-telling, tarot cards, alleged occult sciences, Gnosticism, freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, materialist and animist philosophies, etc. However, something even more relevant is that, in certain cities of the world, there are practices of Satan worship. We are also faced with satanic actions such as New Age, which tries to attract people to false ways of thinking and living, and to believe not in the personal God who has revealed himself to us, but in an impersonal god that is identified with this material world of which we are a part and, for the same reason, wish to make us believe that we ourselves are God."


- Did King Henry II Fear “Becket Cult”?


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