Prenatal development

From the 10th week of gestation (8th week of development), the developing individual is called a fetus.

All major structures are already formed in the fetus, but they continue to grow and develop. Since the precursors of all the major organs are created by this time, the fetal period is described both by organ and by a list of changes by weeks of gestational age.

Because the precursors of the organs are now formed, the fetus is not as sensitive to damage from environmental exposure as the embryo was. Instead, toxic exposure often causes physiological abnormalities or minor congenital malformation.

Development continues throughout the life of the fetus and through into life after birth. Significant changes occur to many systems in the period after birth as they adapt to life outside the uterus.

Megaloblastic red blood cells are produced early in development, which become normoblastic near term. Life span of prenatal RBCs is 80 days. Rh antigen appears at about 40 days of gestation.

Low birth weight increases an infants risk of long-term growth and cognitive and language deficits. It also results in a shortened gestational period and can lead to prenatal complications.