Anatomy & Physiology 28 Development Inheritance


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Anatomy & Physiology 28 Development Inheritance
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Question: Use this interactive tool ( to view the process of embryogenesis from the perspective of the conceptus (left panel), as well as fetal development viewed from a maternal cross-section (right panel). Can you identify when neurulation occurs in the embryo?


Neurulation starts in week 4. 3 A regular heartbeat can be detected at approximately 8 weeks.

Question: Devin is 35 weeks pregnant with her first child when she arrives at the birthing unit reporting that she believes she is in labor. She states that she has been experiencing diffuse, mild contractions for the past few hours. Examination reveals, however, that the plug of mucus blocking her cervix is intact and her cervix has not yet begun to dilate. She is advised to return home. Why?


Devin is very likely experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as false labor. These are mild contractions that do not promote cervical dilation and are not associated with impending birth. They will probably dissipate with rest.

Question: What is the physiological benefit of incorporating shunts into the fetal circulatory system?


Circulatory shunts bypass the fetal lungs and liver, bestowing them with just enough oxygenated blood to fulfill their metabolic requirements. Because these organs are only semifunctional in the fetus, it is more efficient to bypass them and divert oxygen and nutrients to the organs that need it more.

Question: The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that all women who might become pregnant consume at least 400 µg/day of folate from supplements or fortified foods. Why?


Folate, one of the B vitamins, is important for the healthy formation of the embryonic neural tube, which occurs in the first few weeks following conception-often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. A folate-deficient environment increases the risk of a neural tube defect, such as spina bidifa, in the newborn.

Question: Visit this site ( for a summary of the stages of pregnancy, as experienced by the mother, and view the stages of development of the fetus throughout gestation. At what point in fetal development can a regular heartbeat be detected?


A regular heartbeat can be detected at approximately 8 weeks.

Question: Why would a premature infant require supplemental oxygen?


Premature lungs may not have adequate surfactant, a molecule that reduces surface tension in the lungs and assists proper lung expansion after birth. If the lungs do not expand properly, the newborn will develop hypoxia and require supplemental oxygen or other respiratory support.

Question: Janine is 41 weeks pregnant with her first child when she arrives at the birthing unit reporting that she believes she has been in labor "for days" but that "it's just not going anywhere." During the clinical exam, she experiences a few mild contractions, each lasting about 15-20 seconds; however, her cervix is found to be only 2 cm dilated, and the amniotic sac is intact. Janine is admitted to the birthing unit and an IV infusion of pitocin is started. Why?


Janine is 41 weeks pregnant, and the mild contractions she has been experiencing "for days" have dilated her cervix to 2 cm. These facts suggest that she is in labor, but that the labor is not progressing appropriately. Pitocin is a pharmaceutical preparation of synthetic prostaglandins and oxytocin, which will increase the frequency and strength of her contractions and help her labor to progress to birth.

Question: Sherrise is a sexually active college student. On Saturday night, she has unprotected sex with her boyfriend. On Tuesday morning, she experiences the twinge of midcycle pain that she typically feels when she is ovulating. This makes Sherrise extremely anxious that she might soon learn she is pregnant. Is Sherrise's concern valid? Why or why not?


Sherrise's concern is valid. Sperm may be viable for up to 4 days; therefore, it is entirely possible that capacitated sperm are still residing in her uterine tubes and could fertilize the oocyte she has just ovulated.

Question: Darcy and Raul are having difficulty conceiving a child. Darcy ovulates every 28 days, and Raul's sperm count is normal. If we could observe Raul's sperm about an hour after ejaculation, however, we'd see that they appear to be moving only sluggishly. When Raul's sperm eventually encounter Darcy's oocyte, they appear to be incapable of generating an adequate acrosomal reaction. Which process has probably gone wrong?


The process of capacitation appears to be incomplete. Capacitation increases sperm motility and makes the sperm membrane more fragile. This enables it to release its digestive enzymes during the acrosomal reaction. When capacitation is inadequate, sperm cannot reach the oocyte membrane.

Question: View this time-lapse movie ( of a conceptus starting at day 3. What is the first structure you see? At what point in the movie does the blastocoel first appear? What event occurs at the end of the movie?


The first structure shown is the morula. The blastocoel appears at approximately 20 seconds. The movie ends with the hatching of the conceptus.

Question: Approximately 3 weeks after her last menstrual period, a sexually active woman experiences a brief episode of abdominopelvic cramping and minor bleeding. What might be the explanation?


The timing of this discomfort and bleeding suggests that it is probably caused by implantation of the blastocyst into the uterine wall.

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Disclaimer:  This course does NOT provide the education or experience needed for the diagnosing or treating any medical condition, all site contents are provided as general information only and should not be taken as a medical advice.
Source:  OpenStax College. Anatomy & Physiology, OpenStax-CNX Web site., Jun 11, 2014
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