Prenatal Development-The Miracle of Life
Have you ever thought about what an absolute miracle your life is? Imagine how you came to be. Out of thousands of eggs and millions of sperm, one egg and one sperm united to produce you. Had the union of sperm and egg come a day or even a month earlier or later, you might have been every different, maybe the opposite sex or with blonde hair of longer legs. Conception occurs when a single sperm cell from the male unites with an ovum (egg) in the females’ fallopian tube in process call fertilization. The fertilized egg is called a zygote. By the time the zygote ends its three to four day journey through the fallopian tube and reaches that uterus, it has divided into approximately 64 to 128 cells (Eisenberg, Murkoff, & Hathaway, 2002). The fetus is not immune from the outside world. In fact, some things can be damaging to the unborn child. These are called teratogens, and often result in birth defects. They include such things as maternal disease, poor nutrition, stress, pollutants, and cigarette smoking. Some of the most troubling teratogens are alcohol and drugs. It is critical to the development of the fetus that expectant mothers avoid teratogens, and receive good prenatal care (Baltes, 2003). Other prenatal hazards involve genetic birth defects. A major part in a baby's development is directly linked to the actions of the mother takes. To ensure that the baby stays healthy and continues normal development, it may mean to have to make some changes. Pregnant women are encouraged not to use drugs, alcohol, or nicotine as this can seriously affect the baby's development. A mother should avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda while increasing water consumption. Though this all may seem difficult, it is taking an active part in keeping the baby healthy (Baltes, 2003). Exercising is also very important when pregnant. Keeping the baby healthy is just one part of prenatal development but to better understand the full course of prenatal development one must understand physical development during the germinal, embryonic, and fetal period. The germinal period is the period of prenatal development that takes place in the first two weeks after conception. It includes the creation of the zygote, continued cell division, and the attachment of the zygote to the uterine wall. The differentiation of cells has already commenced, as inner and outer layers of the organism are formed. The blastocyst is the inner layer of cells that develops during the germinal period. These cells later develop into the embryo. The trophoblast is the outer layer of cells that develops during the germinal period. It later provides nutrition and support for the embryo. Implantation, the attachment of the zygote to the uterine wall, takes place about 10 days after conception. The embryonic period is the period of prenatal development that occurs from two to eight weeks after conception. During the embryonic period, the rate of cell differentiation intensifies, support systems for the cells form, and organs appear. Once the zygote attaches to the uterine wall, the label for the mass of cells changes from zygote to embryo. The embryo consists of three layers of cells: the endoderm, ectoderm, and mesoderm. The endoderm is the inner layer of cells, which will develop into the digestive and respiratory systems. The ectoderm is the outermost layer, which will become the nervous system, sensory receptors (ears, nose, and eyes, for example), and skin parts (hair and nails, for example). The mesoderm is the middle layer, which will become the circulatory system, bones, muscles, and excretory system, and reproductive system. Every body part eventually develops from these three layers. The endoderm primarily produces internal areas, and the ectoderm primarily produces surface parts. Continuing the embryonic period the embryo’s three layers form, life-support systems for the embryo develop rapidly. These...
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