Entries in Fetus (8)


3-D Printer Makes Model Memento of Fetus for Parents

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most parents have to wait until their child is born to see what they look like, but new technology is letting parents create 3-D models of their child’s face, no labor required.

The Japanese company Fasotec developed technology that uses ultrasound scans and a 3-D printer to create a life size mold of a fetus’ face according to ABC News affiliate WJBF-TV in Augusta, Ga.

Kyoko Aizaka had one made of her now 2-month-old son, Kyosuke, during her third trimester.

“When we did it I was eight months pregnant, so he already had a human shape and baby face,” Aizaka told WJBF-TV. “I wonder how I’d have felt if I’d seen him earlier in my pregnancy.”

While the models created from ultrasounds are more mementos than medical evidence, the same technology can be used to help doctors practice for surgery.

Tomohiro Kinoshita, of Fasotec, told WJBF-TV that the machine can also help with diagnosis or complicated surgeries. For example doctors can replicate an organ to practice a complicated operation before they even touch their patient.

“What’s amazing about this technology is if … you do a scanning, we can make whatever is in the scanning screen,” said Kinoshita.

3-D printers have increasingly been used in the medical field. Last year doctors were able to print a custom replacement jaw for a woman in the Netherlands from a 3-D printer.

The new technology may be impressive, but it is not cheap. Buying a mold of your child before they are born cost approximately $500 per model, a bit more than your average snapshot.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Siberia Town Puzzled Over 248 Dead Fetuses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Russian officials are baffled by the discovery earlier this week of 248 dead fetuses found stuffed into industrial barrels in a the destitute village of Lyovikha in Siberia.

According to the New York Times, a fisherman stumbled across the gruesome scene — tiny, mummified bodies, some as old as 22 to 26 weeks gestation. In 2007, Lyovikha was the site of another horrific discovery: the bodies of 15 women and girls as young as 13, who had been abducted by a prostitution ring.

Some have speculated that the bodies of these aborted or premature infants had been part of a human trafficking ring to sell for bogus cosmetic or medical procedures.

Stories like these do damage to legitimate medicine, including stem cell research, according to experts, who worry about people buying into false cures. Those hopes only fuel the trade in illegal and unethical practices.

“It’s a terrible story … people in distant lands killing embryos,” said Dr. Darwin Prockop, director of the Institute for Degenerative Medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.  “This has always been true in medicine. Medicine has always had a quack fringe around it.”

Health Day has reported that different clinics in China and in Ukraine have claimed to treat thousands of patients with adult stem cells for neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and Alzheimer’s disease. They claim to have cured everything from autism to cerebral palsy and allergies.

Web sites associated with these clinics emphasize benefits and not the risks and the average cost for such procedures, not including airfare and hotel — averaged about $21,500, according to Health Day.

There is no science to support the injection of fetal stem cells for cosmetic purposes, and stem cell research is a long and arduous process.

“I’m afraid it’s only the beginning of things,” said Prockop. “People are so over-excited about stem cells and believe that they will cure anything. And people are desperate.”

Bogus research has cropped up even the United States, he said. A 60 Minutes episode exposed a “snake oil salesman” in Florida who claimed to be curing those with Parkinson’s disease.

Research in the field is promising, but the science is not there yet, according to Prockop.

“Stem cells are kind of magical and can potentially grow body parts, but we are trying to do hard work that is safe and effective,” he said. “The only thing we can do is insist that everything goes through the FDA and systemized studies.”

Crazy cures are dangerous, said Prockop. “People will get killed with the wrong injections for the wrong things.”

But Dr. Insoo Hyun, assistant professor of bioethics and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, said the arguments between opponents and proponents of stem cell research have given them the “magical” properties that the public has embraced.

“Unfortunately, people exploit the mystique and make money,” said Hyun.

He said the Russian fetuses were not likely destined for any legitimate stem cell research. In the United States, the aborted fetuses used for adult research are not identified. “All the names were attached and they were discarded into woods,” he said.

Still, many illegitimate operations mistakenly believe fetal cells have “rejuvenation” properties for wrinkles or disease, he said. Medical tourism thrives in these false claims.

“What the heck were they doing where they were discarded and where did they come from?” said Hyun.  “It’s very bizarre and … people fill in the gaps with their wildest fears.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Video Captures Embryo's Face Being Formed in the Womb

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An animation based on scans of a developing embryo has captured the formation of the face in the womb.

The video, produced for the BBC series Inside the Human Body, reveals how sections of the face grow and fit together like a puzzle just three months after conception.

“The three main sections of the puzzle meet in the middle of your top lip, creating the groove that is your philtrum,” says BBC’s Michael Mosley, whose philtrum is “quite a prominent one.”

The 30-second clip strings together 3-D models of the developing face based on scans taken in the first trimester.

“It was a nightmare for structures like the nose and palate, which didn’t exist for most of the animation,” graphics researcher David Barker told New Scientist. ”Their formation is a complicated ballet of growth and fusion of moving plates of tissue.”

Plates of tissue that fuse at the philtrum, which can be long or short and deep or shallow, depending on a person’s genetic makeup.  The failure of those plates to fuse can cause a cleft lip or palate.  And a smooth philtrum can signal disorders like fetal alcohol syndrome.

“This whole amazing process -- the bits coming together to produce a recognizable human face -- happens in the womb between two and three months,” says Mosley.  “If it doesn’t happen then, it never will.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Fetus Testing Shows Promise, Raises Ethical Questions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new breakthrough by genome scientists at the University of Washington could be a boon to parents of unborn babies in less than five years.

Ultimately, this would allow doctors to test the fetus for up to 3,500 genetic disorders and possibly replace the more invasive amniocentesis that tests for abnormalities in the unborn.

The researchers came upon the new method by mapping the entire genome of a fetus, which involved taking blood samples of a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant and saliva from her partner to map the fetus’s DNA.

After repeating the process with another couple, the University of Washington scientists were able to reconstruct the fetus' genetic code with 98 percent accuracy.

Jacob Kitzman, lead author of the study, said the new procedure can diagnose spina bifida and Down syndrome, the most common genetic disorders in the U.S. It's also believed to be safer than amniocentesis, which carries a certain degree of risk to the life of the unborn.

At the moment, the test is too expensive for widespread use and there are also ethical questions to be considered.

On this issue, Marcy Darnovsky with the public interest group Center for Genetics and Society says, "Researchers and doctors and genetics counselors have an important role to play in how these tests are used and then as a broader society it's really important that we start thinking about these questions."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bill Would Ban Aborted Fetuses in Food

Comstock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- An Oklahoma bill that would ban the sale of food containing aborted human fetuses has some people wondering: What food currently contains aborted human fetuses?

The bill, introduced Jan. 18 by State Sen. Ralph Shortey, prohibits the manufacture or sale of “food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.”

Shortey declined to give specific examples but said some food manufacturers used stem cells in the research and development process.

Embryonic stem cell research remains controversial. Critics argue it destroys embryos, which they consider the earliest form of life. But proponents say stem cell research could cure diseases. Last week, for example, embryonic stem cells were found to improve vision in two women who were legally blind.

If passed, the bill would take effect Nov. 1.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fetus Can Feel Pain at 35 to 37 Weeks, Experts Say

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Fetuses begin to feel pain around a woman's 35th week of pregnancy, about two to four weeks before delivery, according to a new study from University College London.

Using EEG, researchers recorded the babies' brain activity in response to pain, comparing their pain responses from a touch and prick on the heels. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.

"Babies can distinguish painful stimuli as different from general touch from around 35 to 37 weeks gestation -- just before an infant would normally be born," Lorenzo Fabrizi, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The babies, who were 28 to 35 weeks old, showed the same bursts of brain activity for the touch and the heel lance, but babies at more than 35 weeks' gestation had a greater burst of activity in response to the lance than the simple touch.

The findings may explain why babies born prematurely have an abnormal sense of pain, the authors noted, and the findings could potentially affect treatment and care of preemies.

Fetal pain, an area that experts say is lacking in research because it is difficult to study, has often been a point of tension in the ever-controversial abortion debate. Over the past six years, six states have enacted fetal pain abortion bans, making it illegal to perform an abortion after 20 weeks. Many anti-abortion activists argue that fetuses can feel pain in the womb after 20 weeks of development.

"The findings ... should help inform the pain perception portion of the abortion debate," said Dr. F. Sessions Cole, director of the division of newborn medicine at Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis. "Although this study specifically addresses brain wave differences between premature and term infants, not fetuses, after painful and tactile stimuli, it suggests that brain maturation required for fetal pain perception occurs in late pregnancy, more than 11 weeks after the legal limit for abortion in the United States."

"Although fetal pain perception is a complex phenomenon which we do not yet fully understand, this study raises the possibility that maternal pain relief during abortion may require administration of medications more than fetal pain relief," Cole said.

Although the babies' vital sign changes indicate that fetuses and infants perceive pain, Cole said that studies that correlate EEG findings with physiologic indicators of pain may be limited in scope.

"This study did not incorporate any vital sign monitoring, cry response, or other methods for assessing pain," said Cole.

Not unlike older children and adults, premature infants usually receive general anesthetic for surgical procedures, epidural anesthetic and analgesia, nerve blocks, IV pain killers or oral pain killers, Krane said.

"Based on this study, clinical practice in neonatal intensive care units will focus on continuing to reduce use of painful procedures in premature infants," said Cole. "Also, treatment of maternal pain during abortion procedures may require more careful attention than treatment of fetal pain."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Outlaws Abortions Based on Race or Sex of Fetus

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Arizona has made it a crime to perform an abortion because of the sex or race of the fetus.

The bill, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer Tuesday, targets doctors or other abortion providers. It allows the father of the aborted baby -- or the maternal grandparents if the mother is a minor -- to take legal action against an abortion provider, who could face up to seven years in jail and the loss of their medical license if convicted.

Proponents of the new measure said it protected against capricious abortions performed because parents preferred a baby of a different race or gender.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state legislator Steve Montenegro, an evangelical pastor, could not immediately be reached for comment. But Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said via email: "Governor Brewer believes society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable -- the unborn -- and this legislation is consistent with her strong pro-life track record."

Critics of the measure said it was aiming to create another obstacle to abortion for women. "It's to stigmatize women choosing abortion and to create more fear and uncertainty for the medical professionals providing the care," said Bryan Howard, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Arizona.

David Michael Cantor, a Phoenix-based criminal lawyer, said the notion that Arizona residents were practicing sex- or race-based abortion was a "fantasy."

"We're not Pakistan, we're not China," Cantor said, referring to countries where there is a strong cultural preference for boys. He added that he did not believe mothers who knew they had conceived a mixed-race baby were having abortions for that reason, pointing out that the state has a large number of mixed-race children. "Arizona is just a melting pot," Cantor said.

There is some evidence of sex selection among U.S. immigrant parents, according to research by economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of Cornell University. They found that U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents were statistically more likely to have a boy if their first child was a girl than were white parents. If the first two children were girls, the third child was 50 percent more likely to be a boy in those communities, according to the economists' analysis of 2000 U.S. Census data.

But Howard of Planned Parenthood said the motives for an abortion were a matter for the individual to consider. "We don't have evidence of these kinds of motives in the state," he said in reference to sex and race selection. "That being said, it's not my business -- or the legislature's."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Nebraska Mother Denied Abortion Even as Uterus Crushed Fetus

Comstock/Thinkstock (file photo)(GRAND ISLE, Neb.) -- Danielle Deaver was 22 weeks pregnant when her water broke and doctors gave her a devastating prognosis: With undeveloped lungs, the baby likely would never survive outside the womb, and because all the amniotic fluid had drained, the tiny growing fetus slowly would be crushed by the uterus walls.

"What we learned from the perinatologist was that because there was no cushion, she couldn't move her arms and legs because of contractures," said Deaver, a 34-year-old nurse from Grand Isle, Nebraska.  "And her face and head would be deformed because the uterus pushed down so hard."

After having had three miscarriages, Deaver and her husband, Robb Deaver, looked for every medical way possible to save the baby.  Deaver's prior pregnancy ended the same way at 15 weeks, and doctors induced her to spare the pain.

But this time, when the couple sought the same procedure, doctors could not legally help them.

Just one month earlier, Nebraska had enacted the nation's first fetal pain legislation, banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation.  So the Deavers had to wait more than a week to deliver baby Elizabeth, who died after just 15 minutes.

Abortion opponents have hailed the law, and legislators in 12 other states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oregon -- are considering similar restrictions.

They say the law is based on medical evidence gained since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that led to legalized abortion in 1973.  But abortion rights advocates say the motive behind the laws is to challenge legalized abortion in the United States Supreme Court.

In her case, Danielle Deaver insisted, "We didn't want an abortion."

She said her doctors consulted attorneys about exceptions in the law because of the risk of infection that might destroy her chances of ever getting pregnant again.

"What we wanted," she said, "was our labor induced so that I would go into labor and give birth to her and the outcome of her life would not have been different."

"My health was at risk, as well," she added.  "We decided going forward it [premature labor] would be inevitable and we wanted nature to take its course.  We were told we couldn't do that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio