Look up any pregnancy website or app and you will consistently find the same information about the pre-born baby’s heartbeat. A baby has a heartbeat at 22 days from conception.
“Your baby’s heart starts beating about 22 days after she’s conceived, but the earliest you’d be able to spot it onscreen is five weeks after your last period.”
“By 6 weeks, your baby’s heart — now beating 110 times a minute — has four hollow chambers, each with an entrance and an exit to allow blood to flow in and out of each chamber.”
“A baby’s heart begins to beat around 6 weeks.”
Gestational age vs. fetal age
There are two different ways to measure the age of an in-utero baby. Gestational age is measured from the first day of a woman’s last normal period (before she fell pregnant). Foetal age is calculated from conception. Therefore, gestational age is typically two weeks more than foetal age.
A baby’s heart begins beating at less than four weeks from conception, or less than six weeks gestation.
The science of the heartbeat
Some camps are suggesting that early heartbeat activity is little more than “pulses” or “vibrations” of the pre-developed heart. In an effort to diminish the significance of the heartbeat (and therefore the humanity of the unborn baby), they downplay the medical and scientific evidence for the detection of heartbeat so early as 22 days from conception.
The Endowment for Human Development (EHD) is a non-profit organisation with a mission to apply “the science of human prenatal development… as an indispensable and unique way to improve children’s health, enhance their development, and prevent certain birth defects and chronic diseases.” The organisation has a vow of neutrality on controversial bioethical issues including abortion.
And here is a video that the EHD has produced, proving the presence of a beating heart in a pre-born baby (or embryo) at just 4 weeks and 4 days.
Research by the British Heart Foundation suggests that the human heart may even start beating earlier than 22 days.
In The Developing Human, by Moore et al (2013), the in-utero beginnings of the cardiovascular system is acknowledged.
The cardiovascular system is the first major system to function in the embryo. The primordial heart and vascular system appear in the middle of the third week. This precocious cardiac development occurs because the rapidly growing embryo can no longer satisfy its nutritional and oxygen requirements by diffusion alone. Consequently, there is a need for an efficient method of acquiring oxygen and nutrients from the maternal blood and disposing of carbon dioxide and waste products.
In the realms of science and medicine, there is little if any dispute of when a heartbeat can be detected in a pre-born baby or embryo. What IS a bone of contention is whether the presence of a heartbeat has any significance on the debate as to when life begins. This in turn informs our sensibilities around the morality of abortion.
Does a baby really have a heartbeat at 22 days from conception?
Yes. Unreservedly, yes. Scientific and medical evidence proves this.
Knowledge is power as we share the truth – always with love.