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Dr. Landrum Shettles on fetal development from third month on

by | Apr 3, 2020

By Sarah Terzo

Dr. Landrum Shettles (“Rites of Life, The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth,” Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983) described the activities and development of the fetus in utero from the third month on, based on his own observations:

“Activity is far from merely random, by the end of the [third month]. There is a purpose in what the fetus does. It is already practising for life outside the womb. Brain development is sufficiently advanced that the fetus can react to touch, turn its head, kick its legs, flex its wrists, make fists and even curl its toes. It also sucks its thumbs and swallows amniotic fluid, getting ready for the day when it will have something more substantial to consume. It practices breathing, even though it still has no air; using features that are no distinctly baby-like, the fetus begins to perfect some of the facial expressions by which is till later let its parents know its moods, its likes and its dislikes.”


By the end of the third month all arteries are present, including the coronary vessels of the heart. Blood is circulating through these vessels to all body parts. The heart beat ranges during the fetal period from 110 to 160 beats per minute. All blood cells are produced by the liver and spleen, a job soon taken over by the bone marrow. White blood cells, important for immunity, are formed in the lymph nodes and thymus.

During the fourth, fifth and six months, the fetus more than quadruples its weight, going from one ounce to as many as seven ounces. By the end of the sixteenth week, it is likely to be six inches or more in length. During the fourth month the ears begin functioning, and the heart is pumping several quarts of blood each day.

The fifth month adds about two more inches of growth. The fetus may weigh a pound, and if born prematurely at one of the best neonatology centres has a 70 percent chance of survival. By the end of the fifth month, fingernails and toenails are present and growing, and the nipples have appeared in the mammary glands of both sexes.

In the sixth month, movement, which began much earlier, becomes more pronounced. Hair follicles and sweat glands develop. Cartilage gives way to real bone. The eyelids are open. The fetus weighs almost two pounds and by the end of the second trimester will measure a foot in length.

From: “Abortion: A briefing book for Canadian Legislators,” National Public Affairs Office, Campaign life coalition.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Clinic Quotes and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Fetal Development