Prenatal Development (Encyclopedia of Children's Health)
Prenatal development refers to the process in which a baby develops from a single cell after conception into an embryo and later a fetus.
The average length of time for prenatal development to complete is 38 weeks from the date of conception. During this time, a single-celled zygote develops in a series of stages into a full-term baby. The three primary stages of prenatal development are the germinal stage, the embryonic stage, and the fetal stage.
Conception occurs when the female egg (ovum) is fertilized by a the male sperm. Under normal circumstances, one egg is released approximately once a month from a woman's ovary during a process called ovulation. The egg makes its way into a fallopian tube, a structure that guides the egg away from the ovary toward the uterus. For fertilization to occur, sperm ejaculated during sexual intercourse (or introduced during artificial insemination) in a substance called semen must have made their way from the vagina into the uterus and subsequently into the fallopian tube where the ovum has been released. This process can take up to ten hours after ejaculation. For fertilization to occur,...
(The entire section is 2370 words.)
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