The Development of Fingerprints in Babies

By Susan Revermann
Those fingerprints will remain on your baby the rest of his life.
Those fingerprints will remain on your baby the rest of his life.

When a fetus is inside the womb, the development and formation processes that the tiny body goes through include forming fingerprints. Ridges and wrinkles on tiny fingers and toes become identifying marks months before he’s even born. Once those prints are in place, they are there to stay.

When Fingerprints Form

While a fetus is forming, the pads on the fingers and palms start to develop between weeks six to 13. The fingerprints are complete by the time he is six months along.

How Fingerprints Form

The ridge patterns that make the fingerprints have a few contributing factors. The University of California Santa Barbara website explains that genetic factors have a part in this, but the fetus’s location in the womb and the density of the amniotic fluid also influences the ridge formation. According to the Scottish Police Services Authority, the fetus’s movements in the womb and how big and fast he grows also contribute to the design of the fingerprints. Because of the multitude of contributing factors, it's no wonder you’ll never find the exact prints on two people. Even identical twins do not share the same fingerprints.

Fingerprint Designs Features

According to the LiveScience website, three distinct features are found on fingerprints -- arches, loops and whorls. The arches look like waves that rise and fall on the fingerprint pattern. Loops rise up and loop back around, continuing on the same direction it started from. Whorls appear as circular patterns.

Prints for Life

Once the fingerprints have developed, their pattern will remain the same. Even if your baby gets a cut or other superficial skin damage on the fingerprint, it will grow back in the same fingerprint pattern. The Scottish Police Services Authority points out that this is why fingerprint identification is considered such a reliable source of identification.