Fetal Development Studies

The first category of research deals with investigations of fetal development and physiology. The purpose of this research is to expand scientific knowledge about normal fetal development in order to provide a basis for identifying and understanding abnormal processes and, ultimately, curing birth deformities, or treating them in utero. These studies primarily involve autopsies of dead fetuses. However, studies of fetal physiology include the fetus in utero as well as organs and tissues removed from the dead fetus. In some instances, this research requires administration of a substance to the woman prior to abortion or delivery by caesarean section. This is followed by analysis to detect the presence of this substance or its metabolic effects in a sample of umbilical cord blood or in the fetal tissue. This research also advances knowledge of fetal development in utero by monitoring fetal breathing movements. Fetal hearing, vision, and taste capabilities have been documented by applying various stimuli to the live fetus in utero. In addition, some physiological studies utilize observation of nonviable but live fetuses outside the uterus to test for response to touch and for the presence of swallowing movements.

to abortion and an autopsy was performed afterward to determine its technical success.

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