Expectant Mothers React To Study Giving New Look At Fetal Development

The 4-D ultrasound already gives doctors a detailed look at the human fetus. Now, it is going one step further.

According to a British doctor, a pioneer of this new technology, at about 12 weeks of pregnancy, a fetus is able to stretch, kick, and leap inside the womb.

By 18 weeks, the scan has revealed that they can open their eyes. Traditional belief was that the eyelids were fused until about 26 weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors once believed that smiling did not start until six weeks after birth but the scan now reveals that by 26 weeks, the unborn baby can not only smile, but scratch, cry, hiccup, and suck their thumb.

The scan produces the images in real time. For expecting mothers this new ultrasound is a far cry from the grainy black and white image of the 2-D ultrasound.

Marlo Bitter is 28 weeks pregnant and had the 2-D ultrasound at 9 weeks of pregnancy.

"You really couldn't see too much about what the baby looked like at that point," said said. "It really just looked like a peanut with arms and legs."

With the new technology, Marlo is amazed at what doctors can now learn about her baby.  "It's really neat to know that the technology they have now can tell you that kind of thing, because my baby now is acting more like a real baby, not just a fetus inside me."

Sharilyn Sutphen is 5 months pregnant. She also had the 2-D ultrasound. She said the new technology's abilty to detect movement, would have calmed some of her initial fears.  "Early in my pregnancy," Sharilyn said, "I was like is my baby okay because I couldn't feel it, you know? Being able to see it on an actual screen, I think that would have given me that reassurance."

The medical world must now deal with new information, which could change what the world has longed believed about the beginnings of human life.

Story by Maya Golden