Heartbeat breakthrough could lead to new cures for congenital disease


A baby’s first heartbeat happens as early as 16 days after conception, a new study has discovered.

Until now, researchers thought that the first time our heart muscle contracted to beat was at 8 days after conception in mice which equates to around day 21 of a human pregnancy.

Now, a team funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) at the University of Oxford have found it is far earlier.

In the study, published today in the scientific journal eLife, researchers studied the developing mouse heart and found that the muscle started to contract as soon as it formed the cardiac crescent – an early stage in heart development.

WHAT IT COULD MEAN 

Congenital heart disease is diagnosed in at least 1 in 180 births, which equates to around 4,000 each year or 12 babies each day, in the UK, and affecting nearly 40,000 births in…



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