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Although blood cells are not exchanged, the chorionic villi provide ample surface area for the two-way exchange of substances between maternal and fetal blood. The rate of exchange increases throughout gestation as the villi become thinner and increasingly branched. The placenta is permeable to lipid-soluble fetotoxic substances: alcohol, nicotine, barbiturates, antibiotics, certain pathogens, and many other substances that can be dangerous or fatal to the developing embryo or fetus. For these reasons, pregnant women should avoid fetotoxic substances. Alcohol consumption by pregnant women, for example, can result in a range of abnormalities referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). These include organ and facial malformations, as well as cognitive and behavioral disorders.

Functions of the Placenta
Nutrition and digestion Respiration Endocrine function
  • Mediates diffusion of maternal glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals
  • Stores nutrients during early pregnancy to accommodate increased fetal demand later in pregnancy
  • Excretes and filters fetal nitrogenous wastes into maternal blood
  • Mediates maternal-to-fetal oxygen transport and fetal-to-maternal carbon dioxide transport
  • Secretes several hormones, including hCG, estrogens, and progesterone, to maintain the pregnancy and stimulate maternal and fetal development
  • Mediates the transmission of maternal hormones into fetal blood and vice versa


This is a photo of a placenta and umbilical cord post-expulsion.
This post-expulsion placenta and umbilical cord (white) are viewed from the fetal side.


Following gastrulation, rudiments of the central nervous system develop from the ectoderm in the process of neurulation    ( [link] ). Specialized neuroectodermal tissues along the length of the embryo thicken into the neural plate    . During the fourth week, tissues on either side of the plate fold upward into a neural fold    . The two folds converge to form the neural tube    . The tube lies atop a rod-shaped, mesoderm-derived notochord    , which eventually becomes the nucleus pulposus of intervertebral discs. Block-like structures called somites form on either side of the tube, eventually differentiating into the axial skeleton, skeletal muscle, and dermis. During the fourth and fifth weeks, the anterior neural tube dilates and subdivides to form vesicles that will become the brain structures.

Folate, one of the B vitamins, is important to the healthy development of the neural tube. A deficiency of maternal folate in the first weeks of pregnancy can result in neural tube defects, including spina bifida—a birth defect in which spinal tissue protrudes through the newborn’s vertebral column, which has failed to completely close. A more severe neural tube defect is anencephaly, a partial or complete absence of brain tissue.


This multi-part image shows the formation of the neural tube and the notochord. The top panel shows the ectoderm and mesoderm. The second panel shows the neural plate starting to fold over and the third panel shows the closed neural plate forming the neural tube. The fourth panel shows the mesoderm-derived notochord under the neural tube.
The embryonic process of neurulation establishes the rudiments of the future central nervous system and skeleton.

The embryo, which begins as a flat sheet of cells, begins to acquire a cylindrical shape through the process of embryonic folding    ( [link] ). The embryo folds laterally and again at either end, forming a C-shape with distinct head and tail ends. The embryo envelops a portion of the yolk sac, which protrudes with the umbilical cord from what will become the abdomen. The folding essentially creates a tube, called the primitive gut, that is lined by the endoderm. The amniotic sac, which was sitting on top of the flat embryo, envelops the embryo as it folds.

Questions & Answers

what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
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Source:  OpenStax, Genetics and evolution. OpenStax CNX. Aug 07, 2014 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11595/1.2
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