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Home Industry News Foetuses feel no pain before 24 weeks, major review finds

Foetuses feel no pain before 24 weeks, major review finds

28th June 2010

The human foetus is not capable of feeling pain before 24 weeks, a major UK scientific review has found.

According to the first of two government-commissioned reviews by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), connections in the foetal brain are not fully formed and the foetus itself is not conscious at 24 weeks.

In addition, the uterus’ chemical environment was said to induce a “continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation”.

The review adds that it is difficult to tell whether after 24 weeks “the foetus experiences pain because this, like all other experiences, develops postnatally along with memory and other learned behaviours”.

This comes after previous suggestions from prime minister David Cameron that his government may consider reducing the upper limit on abortions from 24 weeks.

A Downing Street spokeswoman responded to the RCOG findings by saying: “The prime minister’s view is that he will be led by the science.”

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