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28: Development and Inheritance

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    • 28.0: Prelude to Development and Inheritance
      The dramatic changes of fertilization, embryonic development, and fetal development are followed by remarkable adaptations of the newborn to life outside the womb. An offspring’s normal development depends upon the appropriate synthesis of structural and functional proteins. This, in turn, is governed by the genetic material inherited from the parental egg and sperm, as well as environmental factors.
    • 28.1: Fertilization
      Fertilization occurs when a sperm and an oocyte (egg) combine and their nuclei fuse. Because each of these reproductive cells is a haploid cell containing half of the genetic material needed to form a human being, their combination forms a diploid cell. This new single cell, called a zygote, contains all of the genetic material needed to form a human—half from the mother and half from the father.
    • 28.2: Embryonic Development
      The period of time required for full development of a fetus in utero is referred to as gestation. It can be subdivided into distinct gestational periods. The first 2 weeks of prenatal development are referred to as the pre-embryonic stage. A developing human is referred to as an embryo during weeks 3–8, and a fetus from the ninth week of gestation until birth. In this section, we’ll cover the pre-embryonic and embryonic stages of development.
    • 28.3: Fetal Development
      As you will recall, a developing human is called a fetus from the ninth week of gestation until birth. This 30-week period of development is marked by continued cell growth and differentiation, which fully develop the structures and functions of the immature organ systems formed during the embryonic period. The completion of fetal development results in a newborn who, although still immature in many ways, is capable of survival outside the womb.
    • 28.4: Maternal Changes During Pregnancy, Labor, and Birth
      A full-term pregnancy lasts approximately 270 days (approximately 38.5 weeks) from conception to birth. Because it is easier to remember the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) than to estimate the date of conception, obstetricians set the due date as 284 days (approximately 40.5 weeks) from the LMP. This assumes that conception occurred on day 14 of the woman’s cycle, which is usually a good approximation.
    • 28.5: Adjustments of the Infant at Birth and Postnatal Stages
      In the womb, the fetus was snuggled in a soft, warm, dark, and quiet world. The placenta provided nutrition and oxygen continuously. Suddenly, the contractions of labor and vaginal childbirth forcibly squeeze the fetus through the birth canal, limiting oxygenated blood flow during contractions and shifting the skull bones to accommodate the small space. After birth, the newborn’s system must make drastic adjustments to a world that is colder, brighter, and louder.
    • 28.6: Lactation
      Lactation is the process by which milk is synthesized and secreted from the mammary glands of the postpartum female breast in response to an infant sucking at the nipple. Breast milk provides ideal nutrition and passive immunity for the infant, encourages mild uterine contractions to return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size (i.e., involution), and induces a substantial metabolic increase in the mother, consuming the fat reserves stored during pregnancy.
    • 28.7: Patterns of Inheritance
      We have discussed the events that lead to the development of a newborn. But what makes each newborn unique? The answer lies, of course, in the DNA in the sperm and oocyte that combined to produce that first diploid cell, the human zygote.

    28: Development and Inheritance is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.