Prenatal Development and Lifespan Birth Development

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Paper divides prenatal development and birth into 6 sections. Information from this text will be used in order to learn more about this subject. These sections are conception and genetics, genetic and chromosomal disorders, pregnancy and prenatal development, maternal influences and fetal health as well as birth and the neonate. Prenatal development and birth can be explained as the process in which a new life begins to form within a women’s womb. In that process there is much that goes on in the making of this new being; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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A women’s reproductive system has a few elements that make it a whole. For now, we will discuss the uterus, ovaries and the fallopian tubes. Each month in the middle of a menstrual cycle an egg is produced from either ovary. The egg travels from the ovary into the fallopian tube down into the uterus. This egg can be fertilized by male sperm if intercourse has happened (generally speaking). Or it can be left unfertilized which then breaks down and is passed through the bleeding stage of the women’s cycle.

When the egg becomes fertilized by sperm each of the gametes containing their own set of chromosomes then combine into one another creating a new cell. In certain cases, one egg can be fertilized producing two identical twins with the same genetic makeup. Whereas when two eggs drop from an ovary (which is rare) those eggs can be fertilized individually and their genetic makeup different from one another. These instances happen in 4 out of every 100 births. The rate in birthing twins has gone up 76 percent over the last 30 to 40 years (Martin et al., 2012). Once the chromosomes start to combine this is where the magic happens in creating a new being.

Chromosomes can tell a lot about a person including characteristics, the gender of a person and much more. At conception the genetic makeup between the two parents will determine eye color, hair color, or blood type for example as stated in the text. The genetic makeup of a person is determined by dominant genes. Genes are either recessive or dominant. For this case dominant genes will determine a child’s eye color. In most cases if a parent has hazel eyes and the other a dark brown, most likely the offspring will have the darker set of eyes. This exception comes to be when both parents pass off a recessive gene to their offspring (straight hair is a recessive gene) if this is the case then this will determine the hair type of an individual. Curly hair is known as a dominant gene therefore if both parents have this gene their offspring will most likely have curly hair. Then we have polygenic, multifactorial and other types of inherited genes that make up our gene structure. With that said, sometimes our genes are imperfect and there isn’t much that can be done in some cases.

According to the textbook and information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2005) 97 percent of births are healthy while 3 percent experience non healthy threatening outcomes. 30 percent are due to genetic mishaps in development. Section 3. 2 discusses genetic and chromosomal disorders that affect development. An example of this would be a gender disorder (which only affects the sex chromosomes) that can be found only in males. They’re set of chromosomes contain an X and Y. If they’re X chromosome gets hit with a defect, they only have that one X chromosome to rely on. Whereas a female that has a set of X’s (XX) and is a carrier for a disease, she has a better chance not having the disorder because her second X remains dominant to the recessive disorder. This type of disease is referred to as a sex-linked disorder. Which is one of many disorders that can alter a person’s lifestyle in the future. Genetic and chromosomal disorders can be found in either a dominant or recessive gene affecting the other non sex chromosomes (autosomal disorders). A few of these disorders can affect a type of ethnicity more so then others. Sometimes chromosomal errors bring out too many or not enough chromosomes leading to down syndrome and other gender chromosome mishaps.

In pregnancy and prenatal development, a woman’s body is developing a fetus, which is giving life to a new being. This new life is in development for about nine months which is broken into three trimesters. Within each term something vital is happening. Section 3.3.2 in Lifespan Development states that the brain is formed before any reproductive organs. Then the organs from the center of the body will form making its way out to other extremities. By the end of 37 weeks a woman is considered full term, the new life is to be between 19-21 inches long and weights between 6-9 pounds! Behavior in prenatal development has shown that babies in utero can recognize familiar sounds.

The placenta in males is considered less developed then that of a female fetus. This can cause certain sensitivity to male development when it comes to being malnourished. In any case while babies are in their brewing away, they can be put in harm’s way with internal/external influences. These could stem from radiation (rare), maternal diseases, smoking, drinking, or illegal drug use which can harm a baby’s brain development and/or produce deformities in a fetus. Most of these problems can be prevented so it is best to be aware of things that may cause harm to proper development and for mothers to take care of their bodies through healthy diet and avoid putting themselves at risks. Proper testing of themselves and the fetus will allow a better outcome for the development or prevent certain diseases from harming the baby when it births. A woman must also maintain stress levels in order to maintain their health as well as the development of the baby.

Parents must decide whether they will be doing this at home or at a hospital. The setting can be important for some couples but luckily there are plenty of options to meet their needs. In the US there are four different settings that a baby can be born into. Another choice parents may come across is whether they will be managing labor with drugs. Women have the option to use analgesics, sedatives or tranquilizers and anesthesia for general or more centralized pain. But using these drugs can affect the unborn baby and after delivery. Short term effects leave the baby groggy and it will generally sleep more within a two-week period. But as far as long term effects there has been little to show any real danger to development, other than the baby itself will feel the effects of the drug. Therefore, some parents opt out of using any drugs and instead chose a more natural approach by seeking alternatives to manage contractions and delivery pain. Most common alternatives are the focus of breath and relaxation when the pain begins to hit.

Once the fetus is ready to be born it signals the women’s body. A baby may be born vaginally, or a cesarean delivery may be necessary depending on the circumstance. Sometimes a baby can be born too early which can cause low birth weight. If this happens a baby must stay at a hospital to be monitored and hopefully gain a healthy weight. A healthy baby will also go through observation as soon as it leaves the womb and for a few days after to ensure baby is growing well and is maintaining good health.


Lastly, Lifespan Development by Denise Boyd and Helen Bee categorizes Prenatal Development and Birth into six sections of brief and easy to follow information. From conception to birth, a person can learn a great amount in these short sections. A summary is also listed for each section which allows a reader to review key points easily. This section in the textbook is a good read because it allows for easy understanding and good for future parents.

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