Use our account feature to register for a free CLI account. Your new account will allow you to bookmark and organize articles and research for easy reference later - making it simple to keep track of the research that's important to you!
Register / Sign in
close-panel

Charlotte Lozier Institute

Phone: 202-223-8073
Fax: 571-312-0544

2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr.
#803
Arlington, VA 22206

Get Notifications

Sign up to receive email updates from Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Become A Defender of Life

Your donation helps us continue to provide world-class research in defense of life.

DONATE

Charlotte Lozier Institute

Phone: 202-223-8073
Fax: 571-312-0544

2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr.
#803
Arlington, VA 22206

Fetal Development

The Science Behind Embryonic Heartbeats – A Fact Sheet

Click here to download PDF version: The Science Behind Embryonic Heartbeats – A Fact Sheet

 

  1. There is a functional, beating heart in every human being by 6 weeks of gestation[1]
  • The heart is the embryo’s first functioning organ, which starts to develop as early as 16 days after fertilization.[2]
  • The first heartbeat occurs approximately day 22-23 after fertilization, which is the 6th week of gestation in pregnancy.[3]
  • The heart forms very early in embryogenesis because the embryo’s survival requires circulation of oxygen-carrying blood, a fact that is validated by all embryology textbooks.
  • The fetal heart is a vital source for oxygen and nutrient distribution, because passive oxygen diffusion that sustains the embryo earlier in gestation becomes insufficient to support the embryo’s continued existence.
  • Initially, the embryonic heart rate is, on average, 110 beats per minute, and increases to approximately 170 beats per minute at 9-10 weeks’ gestation.
  • Even at this early stage, the heart has primitive heart valves that act as physical barriers that prevent the backflow of blood through the heart tube and assist in the forward propulsion of blood as it is pumped through the heart and out through the rest of the body.

 

  1. The embryonic heartbeat can be detected as early as the 6th week of gestation
  • At 6 weeks’ gestation, the heartbeat can be detected via a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • The early embryonic heartbeat is best detected using doppler ultrasonography. This measures the movement of the beating heart.  Ultrasonography does not measure electrical activity, it measures pulses of high-frequency sound reflected off solid objects.
  • At 6 weeks, the embryo’s heart is beating rhythmically, and the heart can be easily identified. Its image has been captured for viewers to see.
  • Researchers have found that the presence of a heartbeat at 6-8 weeks indicates that the baby has a very high chance of surviving to childbirth.

 

[1] There are two common systems for denoting an embryo’s prenatal age. Weeks of fertilization or conception refers to the beginning of human life at pregnancy. Weeks of gestation refers to pregnancy based on the woman’s last menstrual period, in which the number of weeks referenced is typically 2 weeks greater than fertilization age (e.g., a human embryo is 0 weeks old at fertilization, which is 2 weeks of gestation). Unless specifically noted, the age is given in gestation weeks. See https://lozierinstitute.org/fetal-development/preparing-for-pregnancy/.

[2] T. W. Sadler, Langman’s Medical Embryology, 14th ed. (Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2019).

[3] Ibid.

Latest Posts

April 10, 2024 New Study: Abortion Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases New Study: Abortion Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases April 2, 2024 Abortion Reporting: Florida (2023) March 25, 2024 Filed: CLI Amicus Brief in Idaho’s Moyle v. United States EMTALA Case

You Might Also Be Interested In

Five Facts About “Life-Limiting” Fetal Conditions

charlotte-lozier-institute Charlotte Lozier Institute
February 15, 2024
ClosePlease login

Tara Sander Lee | “Knit Together in a Mother’s Womb”

August 13, 2023
ClosePlease login

12 Facts at 12 Weeks

charlotte-lozier-institute Charlotte Lozier Institute
April 25, 2023
ClosePlease login

Become A Defender of Life

Your donation helps us continue to provide
world-class research in defense of life.

BECOME A PARTNER
cta-image