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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Create a timeline of the phases of respiratory development in the fetus
  • Propose reasons for fetal breathing movements
  • Explain how the lungs become inflated after birth

Development of the respiratory system begins early in the fetus. It is a complex process that includes many structures, most of which arise from the endoderm. Towards the end of development, the fetus can be observed making breathing movements. Until birth, however, the mother provides all of the oxygen to the fetus as well as removes all of the fetal carbon dioxide via the placenta.

Time line

The development of the respiratory system begins at about week 4 of gestation. By week 28, enough alveoli have matured that a baby born prematurely at this time can usually breathe on its own. The respiratory system, however, is not fully developed until early childhood, when a full complement of mature alveoli is present.

Weeks 4–7

Respiratory development in the embryo begins around week 4. Ectodermal tissue from the anterior head region invaginates posteriorly to form olfactory pits, which fuse with endodermal tissue of the developing pharynx. An olfactory pit    is one of a pair of structures that will enlarge to become the nasal cavity. At about this same time, the lung bud forms. The lung bud    is a dome-shaped structure composed of tissue that bulges from the foregut. The foregut    is endoderm just inferior to the pharyngeal pouches. The laryngotracheal bud is a structure that forms from the longitudinal extension of the lung bud as development progresses. The portion of this structure nearest the pharynx becomes the trachea, whereas the distal end becomes more bulbous, forming bronchial buds. A bronchial bud    is one of a pair of structures that will eventually become the bronchi and all other lower respiratory structures ( [link] ).

Development of the lower respiratory system

This flowchart shows the embryonic development of the respiratory system and correlates the gestational age to the appearance of new features.

Weeks 7–16

Bronchial buds continue to branch as development progresses until all of the segmental bronchi have been formed. Beginning around week 13, the lumens of the bronchi begin to expand in diameter. By week 16, respiratory bronchioles form. The fetus now has all major lung structures involved in the airway.

Weeks 16–24

Once the respiratory bronchioles form, further development includes extensive vascularization, or the development of the blood vessels, as well as the formation of alveolar ducts and alveolar precursors. At about week 19, the respiratory bronchioles have formed. In addition, cells lining the respiratory structures begin to differentiate to form type I and type II pneumocytes. Once type II cells have differentiated, they begin to secrete small amounts of pulmonary surfactant. Around week 20, fetal breathing movements may begin.

Weeks 24–term

Major growth and maturation of the respiratory system occurs from week 24 until term. More alveolar precursors develop, and larger amounts of pulmonary surfactant are produced. Surfactant levels are not generally adequate to create effective lung compliance until about the eighth month of pregnancy. The respiratory system continues to expand, and the surfaces that will form the respiratory membrane develop further. At this point, pulmonary capillaries have formed and continue to expand, creating a large surface area for gas exchange. The major milestone of respiratory development occurs at around week 28, when sufficient alveolar precursors have matured so that a baby born prematurely at this time can usually breathe on its own. However, alveoli continue to develop and mature into childhood. A full complement of functional alveoli does not appear until around 8 years of age.

Questions & Answers

what is hypoxia
Akas Reply
I guess it's low supply the oxygen to the tissues
famuyiwa
yup
Natalie
A condition in which tissues (especially the blood) are deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen
Panthera
hanifa pia uko hapa
Panthera
where is present Glenoid Cavity ?
A- Reply
what is the muscular tissue
Md Reply
muscular tissue is a type of tissue that provide to help in cotraction to aur body.
A-
What's the difference in epithelial, connective, muscular and muscle tissue
Gifty
and it's similarities
Gifty
what is limb bone
Akshu Reply
this are bone attaching or joining to the axial bone.axial bone including skull,vertebrate and ribcage
Eliasi
how many bones make up the skull?
Matthew
22 bones
Husna
22bones
Bhanu
where is present Glenoid cavity ?
A-
how many bone in skull
Md
Explain the stages of mitosis and cell division
Bella Reply
systems of human body
Udezue Reply
define lymphatic system And give the composition of lymphatic fluid
sakshi Reply
the network of vessels through which lymphatic drains From the tissue into blood.lymph contain variety of substance like salts, glucose, proteins and fatsand water, white blood cells
Bhanu
yeah
Hassan
what is lymphatic system
Adie Reply
the network of vessels through which lymph drains from tissue into the blood
Bhanu
to describe the boundaries of four cavity
Pius Reply
homeostatic variables such as body temperature fluctuates within a normal range around the set point, or ideal, for a given homeostatic condition. for example, 98.6°F is a set point for body temperature. The response of the effector determines whether or not the homeostatic variable remains in the n
Chidinma Reply
why rbc is biconcave?
Sudhakar Reply
to carry oxygen easily
anwaar
What part of the brain controls the body temp
Ridwan
hypothalamus
JAYESH
what are epithelial tissues
Sachibu Reply
epithelial tissue that cover overall parts of the body and it's free from blood and nerves
Bhanu
Epithelial tissues are composed of cells laid out in sheets with strong cell-to-cell attachments.
Duah
Epithelial tissues perform a variety of functions that include; protection, secretion, filtration, diffusion, absorption, etc.
Duah
what control the flow of the blood ?
Donkor Reply
the pumping action of the heart
Holly
what is bony promises on the human body
Kelly Reply
what is the bony promises on human body
Kelly
what are bony prominences on human body
Kelly
support of the body
Bhanu
what are the characteristics of blood
yeboah Reply
they are red in colour
Tawoi
why blood is red in color?
Sudhakar
blood is red because it contains hemoglobin
Abena

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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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