Proper down to organ development. The early weeks

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Proper maternal nutrition is
critical for fetal growth and development during the prenatal stage.  There is evidence that poor prenatal
nutrition and environmental exposure can have long-lasting detrimental effects
on the growth and development of the fetus. The early stages of development are
often referred to as embryonic development. During this stage, the germ layers
and nervous system are established as organogenesis takes place. Organogenesis
defined as the formation germ layers such as the ectoderm, mesoderm, and
endoderm which leads to the formation of organs and organ systems (Zorn, 2009).
During this period embryos are particularly sensitive to things like
teratogenic agents and changes to the maternal diet.

A teratogenic agent is any agent
that can disturb the development of the fetus if the mother is exposed to it
during her pregnancy. The two leading types of teratogenic agents are alcohol
and tobacco (“Teratogens”, 2010).  Teratogenicity
depends on the agent’s ability to cross the placenta, so not every agent is
teratogenic. However, every organ does have a critical period in which its
development can be disrupted by teratogenic exposure (Chung 2012). Studies show
that even large amounts of Retinoic acid or vitamin A can be classified as
teratogenic and exposure to this agent during the fifth week of gestation can
result in neural tube defects such as spina bifida making it even more crucial
for mothers have the proper prenatal nutrition in order to have healthy offspring
(Chung 2012).

Teratogenic factors are not the
only factors when it comes down to organ development. The early weeks of fetal
development are extremely important for organ development because the formation
of organs depends on maternal nutrition. A study done by Wood-Bradley et al.
shows that maternal malnutrition can influence fetal development and pose a
risk factor for future diseases which are most likely due to hindered
organogenesis in the developing offspring. Other studies show that infants whose
mother experienced protein deprivation during the beginning months of pregnancy
were at a higher risk for diseases as adults. Vitamins, minerals, and
macronutrients are required for biological activity and the formation of
organs. Proteins, for instance, is required for the growth and development of
organs such as the heart and kidneys. Studies show that if the fetus is in a
protein-rich environment their cells will store more fat and their heart and
kidneys will have to develop in order to survive more rigid conditions
(Gilbert, 2010). That is why it is important to have just the right amount of
nutrients as being overnourished and undernourished can both have detrimental
effects on the fetus.

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Nutrition plays a big role in the
development of organs because being anatomically undernourished can change the
number of cells produced during organ formation which ultimately leads to
negative effects during organogenesis. Maternal diet can result from
insufficient intake of vitamins, prenatal supplements, proteins and calories that
is why it is important it have a balance. (Hoffman, 2014). Adequate
maternal/fetal nutrition is also necessary for the development of fetal because this period is a delicate
time during which intrauterine exposure can alter the course of fetal
development and bestow detrimental effects on the offspring.

Categories: Nutrition


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