Themes Of Development : Prenatal

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Week One: Themes in Development: Prenatal

Physical: Physical development of the human begins at conception when the egg is fertilized by the sperm. Once the ovum is fertilized, the process of mitosis begins, allowing the cells to split and form the human being. Through this process, each parent contributes 23 chromosomes, which are present in every cell of our bodies, and are made up of DNA and genes (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). The genes that we inherit from our parents determine our physical features, such as hair and eye color, and height. Furthermore, the combination of various genes within the body at the time of conception may result in the individual carrying unexpected traits and illnesses (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).
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4). It is also believed that this exposure can contribute to the development of mood disorders later in life. On the other hand, Deward (2008) states that while cortisol can cause miscarriage early in pregnancy, the mother naturally develops higher levels in later trimesters, which in turn help the baby 's development. Because chronic and serious stress can be harmful during pregnancy, Broderick and Blewitt (2015) stress the importance of reducing conflict and providing strong social support to the pregnant mother.
As previously mentioned, environmental factors, such as exposure to taratogens, can affect the development of the unborn child. Broderick and Blewitt (2105) define a teratogen as “substances or agents that can cross the placental barrier and produce fetal deformities when taken or absorbed by the mother during pregnancy” (p.619). These substances include drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, pollution, stress hormones, poor nutrition, and diseases, such as AIDS. Consumption of drugs and/or alcohol can lead to low birth weight, as well as, physical, cognitive, and behavioral abnormalities. Furthermore, more recent studies are showing that exposure to pollutants can affect an individual’s development. For example, a study of the
Akwasasne Mohawk peoples has shown that pollutants, such as lead, DDT (dichloro-diphenyl- trichloroethane), which is stored as the metabolite DDE (1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(chlorophe- nyl)ethylene),
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