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The first digital atlas showing how the human brain develops in the womb has been published by a global research team led by the University of Oxford.

Adult hand holding the hand of a baby

A team of over 200 researchers around the world, involving multiple health and scientific institutions, led by the University of Oxford, has today published, in the journal Nature, the first digital atlas showing the dynamics of normative maturation of each hemisphere of the fetal brain between 14 and 31 weeks’ gestation - a critical period of human development.

The atlas was produced using over 2,500 3-dimensional ultrasound (3D US) brain scans that were acquired serially during pregnancy from 2,194 fetuses in the INTERGROWTH-21st Project, which is a large population-based study of healthy pregnant women living in eight diverse geographical regions of the world (including five in the Global South), whose children had satisfactory growth and neurodevelopment at 2 years of age.

The study is unique because, for the first time, an international dataset of 3D US scans, collected using standardised methods and equipment, has been analysed with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and image processing tools to construct a map showing how the fetal brain matures as pregnancy advances.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website

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