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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Differentiate between the embryonic period and the fetal period
  • Briefly describe the process of sexual differentiation
  • Describe the fetal circulatory system and explain the role of the shunts
  • Trace the development of a fetus from the end of the embryonic period to birth

As you will recall, a developing human is called a fetus from the ninth week of gestation until birth. This 30-week period of development is marked by continued cell growth and differentiation, which fully develop the structures and functions of the immature organ systems formed during the embryonic period. The completion of fetal development results in a newborn who, although still immature in many ways, is capable of survival outside the womb.

Sexual differentiation

Sexual differentiation does not begin until the fetal period, during weeks 9–12. Embryonic males and females, though genetically distinguishable, are morphologically identical ( [link] ). Bipotential gonads, or gonads that can develop into male or female sexual organs, are connected to a central cavity called the cloaca via Müllerian ducts and Wolffian ducts. (The cloaca is an extension of the primitive gut.) Several events lead to sexual differentiation during this period.

During male fetal development, the bipotential gonads become the testes and associated epididymis. The Müllerian ducts degenerate. The Wolffian ducts become the vas deferens, and the cloaca becomes the urethra and rectum.

During female fetal development, the bipotential gonads develop into ovaries. The Wolffian ducts degenerate. The Müllerian ducts become the uterine tubes and uterus, and the cloaca divides and develops into a vagina, a urethra, and a rectum.

Sexual differentiation

This flow chart shows how the sexual organs develop in embryos. The left side of the flow chart shows the development of male organs and the right side of the flow chart shows the development of female organs.
Differentiation of the male and female reproductive systems does not occur until the fetal period of development.

The fetal circulatory system

During prenatal development, the fetal circulatory system is integrated with the placenta via the umbilical cord so that the fetus receives both oxygen and nutrients from the placenta. However, after childbirth, the umbilical cord is severed, and the newborn’s circulatory system must be reconfigured. When the heart first forms in the embryo, it exists as two parallel tubes derived from mesoderm and lined with endothelium, which then fuse together. As the embryo develops into a fetus, the tube-shaped heart folds and further differentiates into the four chambers present in a mature heart. Unlike a mature cardiovascular system, however, the fetal cardiovascular system also includes circulatory shortcuts, or shunts. A shunt    is an anatomical (or sometimes surgical) diversion that allows blood flow to bypass immature organs such as the lungs and liver until childbirth.

The placenta provides the fetus with necessary oxygen and nutrients via the umbilical vein. (Remember that veins carry blood toward the heart. In this case, the blood flowing to the fetal heart is oxygenated because it comes from the placenta. The respiratory system is immature and cannot yet oxygenate blood on its own.) From the umbilical vein, the oxygenated blood flows toward the inferior vena cava, all but bypassing the immature liver, via the ductus venosus    shunt ( [link] ). The liver receives just a trickle of blood, which is all that it needs in its immature, semifunctional state. Blood flows from the inferior vena cava to the right atrium, mixing with fetal venous blood along the way.

Questions & Answers

what is oesophagus?
Bhavani Reply
oesophagus also known as food pip
ABDULLAH
What is the meaning of dissection
Beryl Reply
what's the meaning of polar?
Jackson Reply
Sign of anaemia or whitish color or Hgb luck
Kassahn
Are you talking of Polar anaemia or what, because the word polar doesnt have one meaning
Kingsley
what are the three types of adrenocorticoids hormones
Lubega Reply
glucocorticoids mineralocorticoid and catecholamines
Kartik
what is polar and non-polar
Jackson Reply
polar unequal share of electron while non polar is equal share
Quran
why are phosphate molecules negatively charged?
Jackson Reply
Bocz of unpaired elections
Javid
because of unpaired electrons
ABDULLAH
what are amphipathic molecules?
Jackson Reply
Amphipathic molecules are molecules with both polar and non polar regions
Mohammed
How does the male organ develop
MADUBULA Reply
Hw does the male organ develop
MADUBULA
Review your questions madam
Aliyu
what is anaphylaxis?
Rugut Reply
it is an imagency condition resulting from abnormal and immediate alagic response to a substance to which the body has become intensively sensitized
Lubega
different between drug and medicine
ado Reply
drugs have no medical application (cocaine, heroin, crystal meth). medicine have medical purpose (fentanyl, albuterol, aspirin, ect ect)
Jordan
medicine is a substance or preparation used in treating disease,drug is chemical compound medicine are drugs but all drugs are not medicines
Wafa
assalam o alaikum
Sidra
what happen to ECF and ICF regarding to OEDEMA
Zwanga Reply
what are the smooth muscles of the heart
Sintung Reply
stomach
Sidra
identify external features of kidney
saba Reply
kidney weight on males?
saba
and female ?
saba
Sle full name & treatment
Samim
Syplymic lupw erythematous
Samim
blood supply to spleen ?
saba
g..
saba
ya 135 g females
saba
130 on male
saba
130g on male
saba
g samim
saba
no 130grms on male
saba
mbbs
saba
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Shahab
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saba
your name?
saba
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saba
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saba
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Shahab
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saba
Define cranial nerves with oder
Javid
O-olfactory O-optic O-occumulator T-trochlear T-trigemenal A-abducent F-facial A-auditory G-glossopharyngeal V-vagus A-acessory
Aniee
opd mean?
Shahab
out patient department
mahesh
thnxx
Shahab
Ty Aniee singh
Javid
Ap sb us book s parhte h
Areeej
Read KD Tripathi book of Pharmacology.
mayank
Hello
mayank
CT Scan means
Sintung
what's health?
Sintung
hello
Philip
hi
Sintung
CT means - computerized tomography
Vivek
connective tissue
Dee
they link some body organs
Sintung
Difference between drug and medicine
Javid
hiii muskan
saba
what is tomography?
Gideon
tomography ☝
shahid
yes
Gideon
how hemolytic anemia cause due to gas gangrene?
Huma Reply
what's gangrene?
Sidra
why retro abdominal region called or named "flank "?
Huma Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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