Nadja Reissland, of the Department of Psychology at Durham University said that during the research they observed sequential events, which show maturation in the development of fetuses, which is the basis for life after birth, Discovery News reported.
Reissland along with her team conducted a total of 60 scans of 15 healthy fetuses at monthly intervals between 24-36 weeks of gestation.
The researchers observed that fetuses frequently touched the upper part and sides of their heads, during the earlier part of that developmental period, while they began to increasingly touch the lower, more sensitive, part of their faces as time went on.
It was found that at 36 weeks of gestation, a significantly higher proportion of fetuses opened their mouths before touching them, which according to the researchers suggests that later in pregnancy the babies were able to anticipate contact between hand and mouth rather than simply reacting to it.
Co-author Brian Francis, Professor of Social Statistics at Lancaster, said that this effect is likely to be evolutionarily determined, preparing the child for life outside the womb.
The study is published in the journal Developmental Psychobiology.
--ANI (Posted on 10-10-2013)