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Pioneering scanning techniques have produced astonishing images from inside the womb which show babies apparently smiling and crying.
Experts believe the breakthrough could lead to advances in baby health for a whole range of conditions, including Down's Syndrome.
The pictures offer a new insight into foetal behaviour.
The ultra-sound scanning techniques capture images which show the foetuses yawn, blink, suck their fingers and seem to cry and smile.
Up to now, doctors did not think infants made such expressions until after birth and believed they learned to smile by copying their mother.
The procedure has been pioneered by London obstetrician Professor Stuart Campbell at the Create Health Centre for Reproduction and Advanced Technology.
His pictures reveal foetuses moving their limbs at just eight weeks.
The new techniques, known as 3D and 4D scanning, allow for far more detailed examination of the foetus.
"There are many questions that can now be investigated," said Prof Campbell.
"Do babies with genetic problems such as Downs Syndrome have the same pattern of activity as normal babies?
"Does the foetus smile because it is happy, or cry because it has been disturbed by some event in the womb?
"Why does a foetus blink when we assume it's dark inside the uterus?"
-------------------- The above is an extract from my fictional novel, "The random postings of Edame".
In the beginning was the word. And man could not handle the word, and the hearing of the word, and he asked God to take away his ears so that he might live in peace without having to hear words which might upset his equinamity or corrupt the unblemished purity of his conscience.
And God, hearing this desperate plea from His creation, wrinkled His mighty brow for a moment and then leaned down toward man, beckoning that he should come close so as to hear all that was about to be revealed to him.
"Fuck you," He whispered, and frowned upon the pathetic supplicant before retreating to His heavens.
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