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A child’s prenatal and fetal development

The conception and subsequent prenatal development of a child is an incredibly exciting and at the same time extremely complex process. While most people still know that the egg cell will be fertilized due to exciting activities, it becomes more difficult with the subsequent developmental steps. The main focus is of course on the development of the child from the beginning of the birth.

Nevertheless, in this article I would like to talk about prenatal, i.e. prenatal development of a child.

Zygote stage

The zygote stage is the first developmental step in a child’s life and begins right after the sperm and egg cell combination, in which the father’s 23 chromosomes combine with the mother’s 23 chromosomes. This results in the 46 chromosomes that every human has. One of the main reasons for infertility and the occurrence of miscarriages lies in the fact that approx. 10-20% of the embryos have an incorrect number of chromosomes and are therefore not viable. Therefore, the zygote stage is already the first critical development phase of an embryo.

During this stage, the fertilized egg (zygote) migrates into the wall of the uterus. This process takes place in the first 2 weeks.

Embryonic stage

After the zygote stage has been completed, the so-called embryonic phase occurs in the 3-8 week of development. Development mechanisms such as cell division, cell specialization, cell migration and cell death already set in here. These serve to differentiate the organ system. Because the rapid division of cells is on the one hand an expansion of what was previously implemented. During cell migration, the previously unspecific cells migrate to their later destination. There, in turn, cell specialization begins, which rebuilds the embryonic stem cells in such a way that cells with characteristic properties and functions arise. Targeted cell death is used to remove cells that are disruptive or no longer necessary, for example to shape the toes of the foot.

These cell development mechanisms form a symbiosis without which the complex human organism could not be constructed.

The placenta also develops to supply the child with oxygen. This has a semipermeable membrane (semi-permeable) and thus establishes the exchange of oxygen between two bloodstreams, namely that of the mother and the child. There is no direct contact between the two bloodstreams. On the one hand, this membrane lets oxygen and nutrients through. On the other hand, it holds back some dangers such as possible pathogens or toxic substances, but not all.

A connection between placenta and embryo is in turn made by the umbilical cord, which enables a blood supply / oxygen supply. The amniotic sac, which is filled with amniotic fluid, protects the embryo from excessive vibrations, movements and fluctuations in temperature. The amniotic fluid is produced by the innermost membrane of the amniotic sac and is a clear liquid.

All of these systems (umbilical cord, amniotic sac, placenta) are called the support system.

Fetal stage

The fetal stage takes place from the 9th week of pregnancy until birth. During this time the organism develops so far that it is viable after birth. During this stage, the senses also continue to evolve so that the fetus can absorb information.

Month of lifeSize of the fetusBehavior of the fetus
3.2 cmFirst reflexes, the brain takes over impulse control, grasping, swallowing, sucking
4.9 cmTurning the head, moving the extremities, opening and closing the mouth, winking, frowning, sucking the thumb, individual behavior
5.16 cmStronger movements that the mother can feel
6.25 cmPremature births are survivable, special sleeping and waking phases, individual sleeping positions, reactions to sounds and changes in movement and pulse rate
7.30 cmIrregular breathing movements, hiccups, movement of the eyes, triggerable grasping reflex
8.35 cmIndependent survival after birth with a higher risk of infection and more difficult temperature regulation possible, habituation
9.45 cmHigh activity in the womb, independent survival after birth possible
Fetal developmental steps

Factors influencing prenatal development

Nowadays it is undisputed that there are harmful factors influencing the development of an unborn person. These are called teratogens in technical terms. These include, in particular, alcohol, smoking, medication, environmental toxins, radiation damage and infectious diseases. For example, smoking also increases the risk of sudden infant death.

During the embryonic period, structural changes (malformations) are predominantly found. With the onset of the fetal period, however, functional or psychological changes in the organism come to the fore.

You can see that prenatal development is a very exciting and important field. The next contribution then follows with the birth and the postnatal development within the first twelve months.


Sebastian Götz
Sebastian Götzhttps://krippenzeit.de
"Ich lerne für den besten Job der Welt und möchte euch hier auf Krippenzeit daran teilhaben lassen."
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