|The above image shows a 26-week-old fetus with an unhappy facial expression. |
Perhaps (s)he can taste something bitter in the amniotic fluid?
[This is part 27 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of "Baby Chris." Click here for other parts.]
26 weeks after fertilization (28 weeks LMP), Baby Chris is 14 ¾ inches long and weighs 2 ¼ pounds—about the size of a large eggplant.
From studies of premature infants born around 26 weeks, researchers know that Baby Chris has a well-developed sense of smell. This also corresponds with an increased sense of taste; the Endowment for Human Development reports that
[a] sweet substance placed in the amniotic fluid increases the rate of fetal swallowing. In contrast, decreased fetal swallowing follows the introduction of a bitter substance. Altered facial expressions often follow. A pregnant woman’s dietary intake can reach the fetus rather quickly. For instance, amniotic fluid assumes the odor of garlic within 45 minutes of ingestion by pregnant women.
Meanwhile, growing subcutaneous fat starts giving Baby Chris the plump, chubby-cheeked appearance of a typical full-term newborn.
Want more facts about prenatal development? Download the free "See Baby" app for your cell phone.