Posted by: Rob Lester | November 26, 2010

A baby’s first breath

A newborn child goes instantly from a liquid environment in the womb to an air-breathing environment. There is no time for the baby to evolve the changes necessary to survive. They must happen instantaneously for the child to live. Listen to a doctor describe the changes just in the circulatory system of a newborn during the first minute after birth. The [umbilical] cord, which has an unusually strong muscle layer surrounding the vessels, reacts with a rapid and powerful constriction of the arteries and vein that is complete in less than a minute. This stops blood flow to and from the placenta, which has two effects. It greatly reduces the risk of either baby or mom losing a lot of blood and also causes an immediate drop in the amount of oxygen baby is getting. Very sensitive sensors–inside certain blood vessels measuring carbon dioxide content, and also on the skin detecting temperature drops–stimulate the nervous system’s breathing center. Under normal circumstances, increased carbon dioxide blood levels coupled with decreased body temperature after exiting the birth canal trigger an irresistible urge for baby to take a strong breath and inflate his lungs for the first time. The lungs have been prepared for this event by special cells producing a compound called surfactant, which significantly reduces the tension holding non-inflated lung tissues together…pressure in the right side of the heart immediately drops well below the pressure in the left side. The “trap door” valve covering the septum’s temporary opening in the left atrium is pressured shut. Cells begin to grow over the edges of the valve, fusing it to the septum. Less than a minute after birth, signals from baby’s nervous system cause strong sphincter muscles to close off the umbilical vein where it attaches near the liver and also close off the temporary pulmonary artery-aorta shunt… The reality of fetal to newborn circulatory changes is this: structures indispensible for life in the womb are incompatible with life out of it, and at birth all structures are rapidly reversed.There are many other physiological changes which occur nearly instantly in a baby’s body. They have to, or the child would die. How incredible is God’s amazing handiwork which is clearly seen in our bodies. We are only now beginning to understand how some of these processes work. But they have worked ever since man was created. And even David knew to write in the Psalms some 3,000 years ago that we “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” The Bible tells us of the wonder of God’s creation.

Randy J. Guliuzza, P.E., M.D. “Made in His Image: Baby’s First Breath” ICR Acts and Facts Dec. 2009


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