What precautions should be taken as a pregnant mother for a healthy pregnancy?
Development of a Baby: Zygote to Fetus
1. Zygote- is the fertilized egg
2. Blastocyte- is the identical cells that haven't taken on any specific roles
3. Embryo- where limbs, facial features, and major organs such as the heart, lungs and brain form. (often times miscarriage takes place in this stage)
4. Fetus- physical maturing occurs in this phase and is responsible for "bulking up"
There are many obstacles that get in the way of normal fetal development, but the three main obstacles are:
1. Exposure to hazardous environmental influences
2. biological influences
3. Premature birth
Teratogens are hazards to fetal health. Teratogens are one of the main disruptions in fetal development. Some might include smoking, alcohol use, and anything hazardous in the environment that the baby has no control over. Smoking is the most prevalent when it comes to teratogens and is also the leading cause of low birth weight.
Genetic disruptions are when cells are copied with some error or break in the genetic material. Once this error occurs, the error keeps replicating throughout the body. The ultimate result is impaired development of organs or organ systems, which isn't in the recipe for a healthy baby.
Prematurity is when a baby is born at less than 36 weeks during a pregnancy. A full term baby is born after 40 weeks. Although an infant can typically survive on their own at 25 weeks, it is important that they stay inside the mother for as long as possible to essentially "bulk up" and fully develop so no abnormalities or deficiencies will form or be acquired. Premature birth can result in underdeveloped lungs and the brain is unable to engage in basic psychological function.
The brain starts developing 18 days after fertilization and many times mothers who become pregnant don't know they are pregnant until after a few weeks have passed. With that said, mothers who currently smoke or drink may put their embryo at risk without even knowing it. Because of this specific reason, the rate of premature births is greater than it needs to be. This year the state of Vermont was the only state to achieve that goal. "The current nationwide rate is 12.2%" (Henry).
One of the most common results of alcohol abuse during pregnancy is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. FAS is a condition resulting from high levels of prenatal alcohol exposure, ultimately resulting in learning disabilities, physical growth retardation, facial malformations, behavioral disorders.
Some things that expecting mothers can do to reduce obstacles in fetal development are:
1. Be aware of the fact that they could be pregnant after having unprotected sex.
2. Once it's known that a woman is pregnant, use little to no alcohol and tobacco.
3. A pregnant woman should not expose herself and her baby to hazardous materials such as paint or even household cleaning supplies.
4. See an obstetrician as soon as possible.
5. Partake in prenatal care (taking vitamins, getting the proper nutrition, and staying active)
Henry, Trisha. "Fewer U.S. Babies Being Born Early, Report Says - CNN.com." CNN.com -Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. 2011. Web. 01 Nov. 2011.