Human heart starts beating at 16 days, study suggests
12 October 2016
The study suggests that the human heart starts beating at 16 days after conception, not 21. Image: University of Oxford
A study has demonstrated the earlier beating of the heart in mouse embryos than has previously been thought. When extrapolated to humans, the study suggests that the heart starts beating at 16 days rather than 21.
A team funded by the British Heart Foundation at the University of Oxford published their results in the journal eLife. They found that in mice, the heart muscle started to contract as soon as it formed the cardiac crescent - an early stage in heart development - rather than the later stage when the heart appears as a linear tube.
In mice, this crescent appears at 7.5 days after conception, which is equivalent to day 16 in an unborn baby. Scientists hope that this discovery will help in the understanding and treating of congenital heart disease.
Three-person baby "race" dangerous
Following on from our coverage yesterday of news that the "three-parent" embryo method has been used to treat infertility, scientists and ethicists have warned of its dangers.
The BBC reports that a number of scientists and ethicists have said that the race to make babies from three people is a major worry, which dupes couples and is a dangerous experiment on mums and babies.
Dr Marcy Darnovsky, from the US Centre for Genetics and Society, criticised doctors who offer the technique, saying : "They are ignoring ongoing policy debates and conducting dangerous and socially fraught experiments on mothers and children. And they appear to be actively seeking a media splash on the way down."
"Use of these biologically extreme procedures for infertility is based purely on speculation."
Belfast Telegraph columnist: "Just how does the legalised abortion of disabled babies make the world a better place?"
Alban Maginess writes in the Belfast Telegraph that Sally Phillips' documentary on Down's syndrome should make people consider if the situation in Britain is what they want for Northern Ireland.
"Before we 'modernise' our present law and join the "progressive" ranks of freely available abortion in Western Europe, should we not stop and ask ourselves: does the abortion of seriously disabled babies make the world a better place? Does it make the mothers of those aborted babies any happier? Is Iceland a much happier place now that 100% of Down's babies are aborted? Or is contemporary Britain any happier because 90% of Down's babies are never permitted to be born?"