Paul Tuns

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry confirmed that a child’s personality begins development within the womb. The researchers found that different areas of the babies’ brains were already communicating in way that indicated unique personality traits such as cuddliness, fear, laughter, sadness, soothability, and perceptual sensitivity. 

University of Virginia (UVA) researchers, led by Tobias Grossmann, a professor of psychology and director of the University of Virginia Babylab, found that some behavioral traits are hardwired into child’s brain before they are born. The team found “neural connections in human brains that determine human behavioral traits are already present from birth and are unique to each individual.”

“To our knowledge,” Grossmann said, “this is the first study to demonstrate that connectivity for this specific brain network develops early in human infancy and plays a role in accounting for individual differences in emerging self-regulation and control skills among infants.”

Grossmann’s team said that the fact the neural connections exist at birth indicates they developed in utero. He said this observation is not surprising considering that other studies have indicated there is “a lot of (development)” that occurs “in the womb.” Numerous studies have shown that preborn babies react in the womb to stimuli such as music and other sounds. Others have found that unborn babies develop a sense of taste in the womb.

The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) tweeted about the study: “A recent UVA study suggests that unborn babies begin developing their personality in the womb.”

The study is just one of many highlighted by the Lozier Institute on its long-awaited Voyage of Life website, launched last month. Voyage of Life provides “the most accurate, scientific, and up-to-date presentation of human life being knit together in a mother’s womb.” The website provides peer-reviewed research that will be accessible to anyone with middle school to post-graduate studies education. It employs scientifically accurate graphics, illustrations, and photography of human beings in the womb, full explanations and definitions, and opportunities to dig further into the research with exhaustive citations supporting each fact. 

CLI president Charles “Chuck” Donovan said, “Advances in science and technology have given us an unprecedented window into how babies grow and develop in their mother’s womb.” He continued: “It’s incredible that scientists can now detect that boys and girls move differently in the womb, that babies yawn and hiccup before birth, that the capacity for responding to touch, sound and pain develops so soon, and so much more.”

Donovan explained in a statement that, “this amazing science of life often remains inaccessible, shared with only a select few in complex, peer-reviewed science and medical journals,” so the Lozier Institute created Voyage of Life website to make it accessible to politicians, medical professionals, the media, educators, and students.

Donavan said his hope is that by making the science accessible “to everyone” that, “based on these continuing advances in science, end debates about the undeniable humanity and moral status of the unborn.”

The website details the stage-by-stage development of human life from sperm formation and egg maturation to fertilization and the “journey to the uterus.” From there is a detailed explanation of fetal development including “the emergence of a body plan” in weeks two and three to the “first heartbeat and neural tube development” in weeks three and four as the mother becomes first aware of her pregnancy to the forming of limbs and major organs by weeks four and five. At this time, “the brain starts growing at an average rate of 250,000 neurons per minute. At about that time, the brain neurons and muscles “form functional connections” as the preborn child begins to respond to touch. By the seventh week, the child has measurable brain activity, makes spontaneous movements, and the heart has developed all four chambers. By eight weeks, there are fingers, toes, and a working digestive system. By weeks eight to nine, tooth buds begin as do male and female genitalia. And so it goes throughout the pregnancy, with each section providing a “Dive Deeper” explanation of the developments.

While human beings do not remember their time in the womb, newborn children apparently do remember sounds, smells, and tastes to which they were exposed in utero, including indications that they respond well to hearing the stories their mothers read to them in the final weeks of pregnancy.

As readers scroll through website, an animated preborn child grows at the top of the website.

Live Action released a three-minute of “Baby Olivia” showing and explaining the prenatal development of the preborn child with state-of-the-art animation reviewed by leading obstetrician-gynecologists. The narrator states, “at fertilization, her gender, ethnicity, hair colour, eye colour, and countless traits are already determined.” Five weeks after fertilization, the narrator says, a heartbeat is detectable and she begins to move, and by six weeks her brain activity can be recorded. “She can bring her hands together at seven and a half weeks and … she can begin to hiccup.” She begins voluntary and reactive movements more than a month before her mother can feel any movement. Within nine weeks, Olivia grew from a single cell to one billion cells, an amazing feat when one thinks about it. Vocal box movements begin at 18 weeks gestation, eyes respond to light by 27 weeks, and respond to her parents’ voices at 28 weeks. “Olivia has gone on an amazing journey during these last nine months. She will soon signal to her mother that it is time for delivery, and greet the outside world.”

In the summer, the California Science Center in Los Angeles had a “Life! Beginnings” exhibit focusing on “how humans and all living creatures reproduce, develop, and pass on their genes to bring new life into the world.” While the center also showed other animal’s development – for example with live caterpillars and sphinx moths — one of the exhibit’s four sections included the “Womb Room.” The immersive family friendly exhibit explored the science behind “the human journey from conception to birth.”

Last year, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, opened an exhibit, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,” with life-like translucent models of fetal development to help guests understand prenatal development. The museum said the exhibit “stands as a testimony to the wonder and sanctity of all human life. The Bible informs us that every human being, both male and female and from the moment of conception, is made in God’s image … although issues regarding life in the womb are hotly contested in our world, the matter is settled by the ultimate authority, the very words of our Creator.”