BSIP, MARIGAUX / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP, MARIGAUX / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Foetus breathing. Coloured doppler ultrasound scan of a foetus, showing its early breathing movements. This diagnostic technique reveals the flow of fluids in different directions as different colours. The red patches seen here (upper right) represent the flow of amniotic fluid out of the foetus' mouth as it makes breathing movements. These movements are intermittent and irregular in utero and are initiated by cells in the brain stem responsible for controlling respiratory function after birth. The movements have two important functions: stimulation of normal lung growth and the secretion of a lung cell coating.
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