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During approximately weeks 16–20, as the fetus grows and limb movements become more powerful, the mother may begin to feel quickening    , or fetal movements. However, space restrictions limit these movements and typically force the growing fetus into the “fetal position,” with the arms crossed and the legs bent at the knees. Sebaceous glands coat the skin with a waxy, protective substance called vernix caseosa    that protects and moisturizes the skin and may provide lubrication during childbirth. A silky hair called lanugo    also covers the skin during weeks 17–20, but it is shed as the fetus continues to grow. Extremely premature infants sometimes exhibit residual lanugo.

Developmental weeks 21–30 are characterized by rapid weight gain, which is important for maintaining a stable body temperature after birth. The bone marrow completely takes over erythrocyte synthesis, and the axons of the spinal cord begin to be myelinated, or coated in the electrically insulating glial cell sheaths that are necessary for efficient nervous system functioning. (The process of myelination is not completed until adolescence.) During this period, the fetus grows eyelashes. The eyelids are no longer fused and can be opened and closed. The lungs begin producing surfactant, a substance that reduces surface tension in the lungs and assists proper lung expansion after birth. Inadequate surfactant production in premature newborns may result in respiratory distress syndrome, and as a result, the newborn may require surfactant replacement therapy, supplemental oxygen, or maintenance in a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) chamber during their first days or weeks of life. In male fetuses, the testes descend into the scrotum near the end of this period. The fetus at 30 weeks measures 28 cm (11 in) from crown to rump and exhibits the approximate body proportions of a full-term newborn, but still is much leaner.

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?

The fetus continues to lay down subcutaneous fat from week 31 until birth. The added fat fills out the hypodermis, and the skin transitions from red and wrinkled to soft and pink. Lanugo is shed, and the nails grow to the tips of the fingers and toes. Immediately before birth, the average crown-to-rump length is 35.5–40.5 cm (14–16 in), and the fetus weighs approximately 2.5–4 kg (5.5–8.8 lbs). Once born, the newborn is no longer confined to the fetal position, so subsequent measurements are made from head-to-toe instead of from crown-to-rump. At birth, the average length is approximately 51 cm (20 in).

Disorders of the…

Developing fetus

Throughout the second half of gestation, the fetal intestines accumulate a tarry, greenish black meconium. The newborn’s first stools consist almost entirely of meconium; they later transition to seedy yellow stools or slightly formed tan stools as meconium is cleared and replaced with digested breast milk or formula, respectively. Unlike these later stools, meconium is sterile; it is devoid of bacteria because the fetus is in a sterile environment and has not consumed any breast milk or formula. Typically, an infant does not pass meconium until after birth. However, in 5–20 percent of births, the fetus has a bowel movement in utero, which can cause major complications in the newborn.

The passage of meconium in the uterus signals fetal distress, particularly fetal hypoxia (i.e., oxygen deprivation). This may be caused by maternal drug abuse (especially tobacco or cocaine), maternal hypertension, depletion of amniotic fluid, long labor or difficult birth, or a defect in the placenta that prevents it from delivering adequate oxygen to the fetus. Meconium passage is typically a complication of full-term or post-term newborns because it is rarely passed before 34 weeks of gestation, when the gastrointestinal system has matured and is appropriately controlled by nervous system stimuli. Fetal distress can stimulate the vagus nerve to trigger gastrointestinal peristalsis and relaxation of the anal sphincter. Notably, fetal hypoxic stress also induces a gasping reflex, increasing the likelihood that meconium will be inhaled into the fetal lungs.

Although meconium is a sterile substance, it interferes with the antibiotic properties of the amniotic fluid and makes the newborn and mother more vulnerable to bacterial infections at birth and during the perinatal period. Specifically, inflammation of the fetal membranes, inflammation of the uterine lining, or neonatal sepsis (infection in the newborn) may occur. Meconium also irritates delicate fetal skin and can cause a rash.

The first sign that a fetus has passed meconium usually does not come until childbirth, when the amniotic sac ruptures. Normal amniotic fluid is clear and watery, but amniotic fluid in which meconium has been passed is stained greenish or yellowish. Antibiotics given to the mother may reduce the incidence of maternal bacterial infections, but it is critical that meconium is aspirated from the newborn before the first breath. Under these conditions, an obstetrician will extensively aspirate the infant’s airways as soon as the head is delivered, while the rest of the infant’s body is still inside the birth canal.

Aspiration of meconium with the first breath can result in labored breathing, a barrel-shaped chest, or a low Apgar score. An obstetrician can identify meconium aspiration by listening to the lungs with a stethoscope for a coarse rattling sound. Blood gas tests and chest X-rays of the infant can confirm meconium aspiration. Inhaled meconium after birth could obstruct a newborn’s airways leading to alveolar collapse, interfere with surfactant function by stripping it from the lungs, or cause pulmonary inflammation or hypertension. Any of these complications will make the newborn much more vulnerable to pulmonary infection, including pneumonia.

Chapter review

The fetal period lasts from the ninth week of development until birth. During this period, male and female gonads differentiate. The fetal circulatory system becomes much more specialized and efficient than its embryonic counterpart. It includes three shunts—the ductus venosus, the foramen ovale, and the ductus arteriosus—that enable it to bypass the semifunctional liver and pulmonary circuit until after childbirth. The brain continues to grow and its structures differentiate. Facial features develop, the body elongates, and the skeleton ossifies. In the womb, the developing fetus moves, blinks, practices sucking, and circulates amniotic fluid. The fetus grows from an embryo measuring approximately 3.3 cm (1.3 in) and weighing 7 g (0.25 oz) to an infant measuring approximately 51 cm (20 in) and weighing an average of approximately 3.4 kg (7.5 lbs). Embryonic organ structures that were primitive and nonfunctional develop to the point that the newborn can survive in the outside world.

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.

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Questions & Answers

what it mean to augment?
Solomon Reply
Which of the following is generally called a Sprain?
Raneem Reply
sprain is also called torn ligament.. it is the streching Or tearing of ligament.. with in a joint
Khawaja
a long boin between your nick and pelvic
Marie
sprain is also known as" moch"
Sneha
sprain is also known as 'moch' it's a type of injury affect on ligaments..(sprain)
Sanjith
sprain and strain both called as 'moch'
Sanjith
moc
Mulumbwe
body, muscle and regional of structures in the body
Harmony Reply
when the heart beats, blood pumps through the body and making the body function
Harmony
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Hausa Reply
what is ventricular circulation
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In a four-chambered heart, such as that in humans, there are two ventricles that operate in a double circulatory system: the right ventricle pumps blood into the pulmonary circulation to the lungs, and the left ventricle pumps blood into the systemic circulation through the aorta.
yes
anjali
hi
A 23-year-old basketball player mentally rehearses free throw shots while lying in bed. Which option best describesthe area of the brain that is involved in generating a motor image of this action in the absence of actual movement?
Rai
hapothalamus
Prashant
a 67-year-old man has a stroke. one week later, he experiences sudden and uncontrolled flailing, ballistic movements of his limbs. which part of the man’s brain is most likely to have been damaged by the stroke?
Rai
primary motor cortex.. (principal area of cerebrum)
Khawaja
what factors that affect the rate diffusion
Gift Reply
the mass of the solute the temperature of theenvironment the solvent density and the distance traveled
Sulaiman
ok.
Thobok
sorry what are the common meaning of haemostatis
Juma Reply
homeostasis is the steady internal physical and chemical conditions maintaining by living systems
Sulaiman
what are the negatives feedback regulation of ADH
Nansi Reply
what is the the differences between DNA and RNA?
Mustapha
The major differences between the DNA and RNA are contain of double stranded and single stranded which the DNA contain duoble stranded and RNA contain single stranded.
Juma
what are the negatives feedback regulation of ADH before this we confused just verify long term of ADH firstly
Juma
How many genes consist of DNA?
Omaryare
omaryare muhyadiin when you talk about genes, is the material formed in a DNA genes have form like plasma have many genes round there
Juma
aldosterone, renin
Conan
DNA contains the sugar deoxyribone while RNA contains the sugar ribose the only difference between ribose and deoxyribone is that ribose has one more- OH group than deoxyribone which has -H attached to the second carbon in the ring DNA is a double stranded molecules RNA is a single strnded molecul
Sulaiman
yes
Thobok
in human genes very in size from a few hundred DNA based to more than 2million bases
Sulaiman
to know the different structures of the body To know how the body works To know more about our body parts
Deitdre Reply
hi Deitdre you tock about knowledge or you ask the question
Juma
do you need any explanation when reading this book?
janet Reply
Its Good
Hashir
yes
Balogun
Yes
Mariam
yes
Sale
yes
Mustapha
if have many ability just do it!!
Juma
we all waiting for it
Sulaiman
compare and contrast the operation of homeostasis
Dinelle Reply
what is the difference between an ionic, polar covalent and nonpolar covalent bond?
Dinelle
In summary, the bond has different in electronegativity.
Balogun
sorry help me to get the definition of hemostasis or the meaning
Juma
the definition of distal
Dinelle Reply
farthest away from the attachment point.
felix
Distal, is the farthest possition from the origin or midle point
Juma
exercise physiologist how ?
Noor Reply
hi noorr. when you talk about physiologist its a person who study physiology but exercise physiologist is what an exercise doing by physiologist in physiologican
Juma
can I get the questions of human physiology that is present in HSC 2nd semester
Rafiullah Reply
in my lerning the question com like for example ni eassy qustion must understand the the part of the body and how it work or mechanisms of each part learned
Juma
how can I memorize
mukhtaar Reply
which part of the body produces blood
aadil
give me answer
aadil
Red blood cells are formed in the red bone marrow ofbones. Stem cells in the red bone marrow called hemocytoblasts give rise to all of the formed element
mukhtaar
what is hemocytoblasts
Fatima
hemocytoblasts are stem cells in red bone marrow which give rise the all of formed elements
Khawaja

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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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