An Italian research team has released new 4D ultrasound footage showing unborn twins interacting with each other in the womb as early as 14 weeks into the pregnancy.
The study was led by Dr. Umberto Castiello and entitled “Wired to Be Social: The Ontogeny of Human Interaction”. The introduction to the report says “Newborns come into the world wired to socially interact,” then asks the question, “Is a propensity to socially oriented action already present before birth?”
“Unlike ordinary siblings, twins share a most important environment – the uterus. If a predisposition towards social interaction is present before birth, one may expect twin foetuses to engage in some form of interaction,” the report said.
Prior to the study, research had shown unborn twins interacting as early as 11 weeks into the pregnancy, but there had been no research to determine whether this contact was intentional and specifically directed towards the other twin.
The study “demonstrated that, by the 14th week of gestation, twin foetuses not only display movements directed towards the uterine wall and self-directed movements, but also movements specifically aimed at the co-twin.” The babies were seen intentionally touching their twin’s eye and mouth regions and were even seen “caressing” the back of their sibling. By the 18th week, the researchers calculated that 30% of all the babies’ movements were directed specifically at their twin, and those movements were more accurate and longer in duration than self-directed movements.
The research was conducted on five pairs of twins in 20 minute video sessions carried out at the 14th and 18th week of pregnancy.
They concluded that the interaction between twins in the womb is intentional and that unborn twins are very much aware of each other’s presence.
You can view the full report here.
Below are images and captions taken from the report.
A) Video frame representing a self-directed movement towards the mouth. B) Video frame representing a self-directed movement towards the eye. C) Video frame representing the foetus reaching towards and “caressing” the back of the sibling. D) Video frame representing the foetus reaching towards and “caressing” the head of the sibling.