Incredible news: Scientists have discovered foetuses recognise faces in the womb.

The moment babies begin to recognise faces is actually much sooner than we thought, according to new research out of the UK.

In fact, the ability to distinguish faces from other shapes develops during the third trimester of pregnancy, before a baby is even born.

Using remarkable 4D ultrasound technology, scientists from Lancaster University tested how 39 foetuses would react to face-like images projected into their mother’s uterus.

By shining the careful arrangements of light through the uterine wall, they found the unborn infants would turn towards those that resembled human faces.

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“There was the possibility that the foetus would find any shape interesting due to the novelty of the stimulus,” Professor Vincent Reid, who led the research told Cosmos Magazine.

“If this was the case, we would have seen no difference in how they responded to the upright and upside-down versions of the stimuli. But it turned out that they responded in a way that was very similar to infants.”


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Previously, scientists had assumed newborns learned to fixate on faces after they were born, but the new findings suggest it might be an innate mechanism.

The research also confirms that baby's senses are well developed before they enter the world, so parents should begin interacting with their little ones while they're still in the womb.

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