When Should I Reach Out To My Healthcare Provider About A New Pregnancy
Most healthcare providers will have you wait to come in for an appointment until you have had a positive home pregnancy test. These tests are very accurate once you have enough hCG circulating throughout your body. This can be a few weeks after conception. Its best to call your healthcare provider once you have a positive pregnancy test to schedule your first appointment.
When you call, your healthcare provider may ask you if you are taking a prenatal vitamin. These supplements contain folic acid. Its important that you get at least 400mcg of folic acid each day during a pregnancy to make sure the fetus’s neural tube develops correctly. Many healthcare providers suggest that you take prenatal vitamins with folic acid even when you arent pregnant. If you werent taking prenatal vitamins before your pregnancy, your provider may ask you to start as early as possible.
‘scans Chart How Quickly Babies’ Brains Grow’
Human brains grow most rapidly just after birth and reach half their adult size within three months, according to a study in JAMA Neurology.
Using advanced scanning techniques, researchers found male brains grew more quickly than those of female infants.
Areas involved in movement developed at the fastest pace. Those associated with memory grew more slowly.
Scientists say collating this data may help them identify early signs of developmental disorders such as autism.
Your Baby’s Brain Development
The human brain has 3 main parts:
Brain stem and cerebellum these connect the brain to the spinal cord and control the body’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, balance and reflexes.
Limbic system this sits on top of the brain stem and looks after many different functions including emotion, thirst, hunger, memory, learning, and the body’s daily rhythms.
Cerebral cortex this consists of a left and right hemisphere, and sits on top of the limbic system. The cerebral cortex contains:
- occipital lobe for vision
- temporal lobe for hearing, language and social interaction
- frontal lobe for memory, self-regulation, planning and problem solving
- parietal lobe for bodily sensations like pain, pressure, heat and cold
Diagram showing different parts of the brain.
Your babys brain has been developing since they were in your womb. In the first trimester, nerve connections are built that enable your baby to move around in the womb, while in the second trimester, more nerve connections and brain tissue are formed.
In the third trimester, the cerebral cortex starts to take over from the brain stem, preparing your baby for future learning.
Loving relationships and stimulating experiences are vital for your baby’s development since they give your baby opportunities to communicate, move and learn about their world.
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How You Can Support Your Baby’s Brain
Every mother wants to give her baby the best possible start in life. But sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do, especially with so much advice floating around in books, magazines and on the Internet. Just listen to your doctors and follow their advice and you should be fine. Most likely, they will suggest these simple tips to keep both you and your baby healthy.
In The First Three Years A Childs Brain Has Up To Twice As Many Synapses As It Will Have In Adulthood
Now that were a little more familiar with the fundamentals of the brain, lets take a look at brain development in children. Between conception and age three, a childs brain undergoes an impressive amount of change. At birth, it already has about all of the neurons it will ever have. It doubles in size in the first year, and by age three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume.8-10
Even more importantly, synapses are formed at a faster rate during these years than at any other time. In fact, the brain creates many more of them than it needs: at age two or three, the brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood . These surplus connections are gradually eliminated throughout childhood and adolescence, a process sometimes referred to as blooming and pruning.11
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Continue Learning About Fetal Development Basics & Pregnancy
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
Fetal Brain Development Week 11
The spinal cord is clearly defined and the spinal nerves start to stretch out from the spinal cord.This week sees the completion of the first trimester. The sex of the baby can be determined in this period. The heart, liver, spleen and many other organs are already functioning. By this stage, the baby is taking plenty of nourishment through the placenta. The fetus also begins its practice of breathing, inhaling, and exhaling. The eyelids will close and not open until the 28th week.
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Development Of The Blastocyst
About 6 days after fertilization, the blastocyst attaches to the lining of the uterus, usually near the top. This process, called implantation, is completed by day 9 or 10.
The wall of the blastocyst is one cell thick except in one area, where it is three to four cells thick. The inner cells in the thickened area develop into the embryo, and the outer cells burrow into the wall of the uterus and develop into the placenta. The placenta produces several hormones that help maintain the pregnancy. For example, the placenta produces human chorionic gonadotropin, which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs and stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone continuously. The placenta also carries oxygen and nutrients from mother to fetus and waste materials from fetus to mother.
Some of the cells from the placenta develop into an outer layer of membranes around the developing blastocyst. Other cells develop into an inner layer of membranes , which form the amniotic sac. When the sac is formed , the blastocyst is considered an embryo. The amniotic sac fills with a clear liquid and expands to envelop the developing embryo, which floats within it.
Neural Patterning In The Embryonic Period
The transformations in the overall shape of the embryo reflect more specific change in neural patterning within all regions of the embryonic nervous system. These changes mark the beginning of a protracted process of neural patterning within the central nervous system that begins in the embryonic period and extends for many years. The changes are gradual and follow an ongoing course of continuous specification and refinement . The patterning that emerges in the embryonic period provides only a primitive map of eventual nervous system organization, but it sets the stage for later developments. Embryonic patterning affects all brain regions from the forebrain through the spinal column, such that by the end of the embryonic period in GW8 primitive patterning of sensorimotor regions within the neocortex is established , major compartments within diencephalic and midbrain regions have differentiated , and the segmental organization of the hindbrain and spinal column have been specified . Space does not permit an extended discussion of embryonic neural patterning. Rather, one example, focused on very early patterning within the developing neocortex, will serve both to define the construct of neural patterning, and to illustrate the idea of continuous specification and refinement of brain areas.
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What Develops In The Third Trimester
The third trimester is full of rapid growth. In fact, as your baby continues to grow, so does the brain. All the convoluted surfaces of the brain materialize, and the halves will separate, explains Gaither.
The most notable part of the brain during this final trimester is the cerebellum hence, the kicking, punching, wiggling, stretching, and all of the other movements your baby is performing.
While it may feel like you have control over nothing for the next 9 months, you do have a say in the foods you eat. Healthy brain development starts before pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , a healthy diet that includes folic acid, both from foods and dietary supplements, can promote a healthy nervous system.
There are a number of defects along the babys brain and spinal cord that can occur when there is an abnormality occurring within the first weeks of brain development, says Gaither. This may include anencephaly or spina bifida.
Gaither says two supplements in particular are involved with fetal brain development:
Baby Brain Development: Cognitive Development
Baby brain development technically begins during the third week of your pregnancy, when rapidly multiplying cells form whats called the neural plate. This structure eventually folds in on itself to become the neural tube, which later gives rise to the forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain, and spinal cord. As early as five weeks after conception, neurons the information-processing cells that pass signals throughout the central nervous system begin to form, divide, and multiply in these regions of your developing babys brain.
The most active period of baby brain development takes place during the middle of the second trimester, when 250,000 neurons are created every minute. The neurons begin to migrate to different regions of your developing babys brain, where they take on specific roles, such as interpreting sounds and storing memories, and form connections with other neurons – leading up to the sixth month of pregnancy.
During this time of heightened baby brain development, the cerebral cortex the area associated with the brains higher functions, such as language and abstract thought grows more rapidly than the brains other structures. By the seventh month of your pregnancy, it houses 70 percent of the neurons in your developing babys brain.
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What You Can Do To Support This Growth
If you just discovered that you’re pregnant, you will likely spend the next months ahead wondering how your baby is growing and developing. Questions like: “What color will my baby’s eyes be?” or “When can my baby hear me?” may run through your mind. You may even wonder about your baby’s brain development.
Fortunately, fetal brain development typically follows a pretty predictable schedule. In fact, the fetal nervous system, or your baby’s brain and spinal cord, is one of the first systems to develop. So, as you continue along with your prenatal care and get your ultrasounds, your baby also will be moving along and developing at a predictable rate.
How The Brain Changes During Development
From early stages of adolescence into adulthood, the brain experiences major growth and pruning. Initial developments begin near the back of the cortex, and tend to finish in the frontal areas . There are a couple key ways by which the brain changes during various stages of development including: myelination as well as synaptic pruning.
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How Your Baby’s Brain Develops
Once you find out you are pregnant, your baby’s brain is already in the works. In fact, just four weeks after conception, the neural plate forms, which is the foundation of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. As it grows longer, it folds in on itself until that fold changes into a groove. Eventually, that groove will turn into the neural tube. This neural tube, located along your baby’s back, is important to your baby’s brain and spinal cord development, which both develop from the neural tube.
How Brain Connections Are Built
Starting from birth, children develop brain connections through their everyday experiences. Theyre built through positive interactions with their parents and caregivers and by using their senses to interact with the world. A young childs daily experiences determine which brain connections develop and which will last for a lifetime. The amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive in their early years makes all the difference.
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Regressive Events In Prenatal Brain Development
While most neurodevelopmental events involve the proliferation of neural elements, two important processes involve substantial loss of neural elements. These two processes include naturally occurring cell death, which involves the normal loss of 50% or more of the neurons within a brain region and synaptic exuberance and pruning in which there is massive excess production of connections followed by the systematic elimination of up to 50% of those connections. Both of these processes reflect nonpathological events that play an essential role in establishing the complex networks of the developing brain. The timescales of these two sets of events are different. Most naturally occurring cell death in neuronal populations occurs prenatally, while both cell death in glia populations and the events involving exuberant production and pruning of connections are largely postnatal events. This section will consider cell death in neural populations during the prenatal period. The major postnatal regressive events will be discussed in the next section.
Migration To The Cerebral Cortex
The mammalian brain develops from the core outward. Long before the recognizably wrinkled surface of the cerebral cortex appears, the hollow, fluid-filled ventricles are present. These serve both as a connection back to the spinal cord and as the site of origin for the new elements that will ultimately be assembled into the outermost surface of the brain, the cerebral cortex. Thus, in the course of development, the neurons and supporting glial cells of the cortex must somehow make their way there from the ventricular zone. This stage has been described as a massive migration of cells, and the distances involved are enormous, at least from the point of view of a single cell: some may travel as much as several millimeters to their eventual destination in the cortex.
One other striking aspect of neuronal migration is the order in which the six layers of the cortex are built up: from the innermost to the outermost. Each migrating neuron, before arriving at its own predetermined site in the cortex, must travel outward through all the neurons that have migrated and settled in the cortex before it. As a result, each layer of the cortex, as it builds up, has the opportunity to carry an accretion of information from nearby cells that have preceded itinformation that may help to lay the groundwork for the next developmental stage.
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From Conception To Age Three: An Outline Of Early Brain Development
The development of the brain begins in the first few weeks after conception. Most of the structural features of the brain appear during the embryonic period these structures then continue to grow and develop during the fetal period .19,20
The first key event of brain development is the formation of the neural tube. About two weeks after conception, the neural plate, a layer of specialized cells in the embryo, begins to slowly fold over onto itself, eventually forming a tube-shaped structure. The tube gradually closes as the edges of the plate fuse together this process is usually complete by four weeks after conception. The neural tube continues to change, eventually becoming the brain and spinal cord.20,21
About seven weeks after conception the first neurons and synapses begin to develop in the spinal cord. These early neural connections allow the fetus to make its first movements, which can be detected by ultrasound and MRI even though in most cases the mother cannot feel them. These movements, in turn, provide the brain with sensory input that spurs on its development. More coordinated movements develop over the next several weeks.22
Early in the second trimester, gyri and sulci begin to appear on the brains surface by the end of this trimester, this process is almost complete. The cerebral cortex is growing in thickness and complexity and synapse formation in this area is beginning.20,21,23
How Brains Are Built
Starting from birth, these brain connections are formed through a childs everyday experiences with their parents and adult caregivers. The amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive in early childhood determines which brain connections develop and last for a lifetime.
Young children serve up invitations to engage with their parents and other adult caregivers in their lives. Babies do it by cooing and smiling and crying toddlers are able to communicate their needs and interests more directly. Each of these little invitations is an opportunity for the caregiver to either be responsive or unresponsive to the childs needs. This serve-and-return process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain. Loving relationships with caregivers who consistently give attention, respond and interact with their child are essential to a childs healthy development. These relationships begin at home, with parents and family, but also include child care providers, teachers and other members of the community.
After the first three years, the brain begins to fine-tune itself. Connections that are used more often become stronger, while those that are not used are eventually eliminated. This is a normal process, , that makes the brain more efficient. Building brain connections is like building muscles: use it or lose it.
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