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Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than ' million visitors each month.


WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform
The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new Web site to help researchers, doctors and patients obtain reliable information on high-quality clinical trials. Now you can go to one website and search all registers to identify clinical trial research underway around the world!



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Disclaimer: The Visible Embryo web site is provided for your general information only. The information contained on this site should not be treated as a substitute for medical, legal or other professional advice. Neither is The Visible Embryo responsible or liable for the contents of any websites of third parties which are listed on this site.
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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
Click weeks 0 - 40 and follow fetal growth
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June 17, 2011--------News Archive

Postnatal Depression Linked to Depression in Child
The effects of maternal depression on the likelihood of the child to develop depression may begin as early as infancy.

First Diagnostic Test for Hereditary Child's Disease
A breakthrough in genetic research has uncovered the defect behind a rare hereditary child’s disease that inhibits the body’s ability to break down vitamin D.

Walking, Sex, Spicy Food Favored to Bring On Labor
Near the end of pregnancy, some women take it upon themselves to try to induce labor, mostly by walking, having sex, eating spicy food or stimulating their nipples.


June 16, 2011--------News Archive

Effects of Premature Birth Can Reach Into Adulthood
Premature infants are less healthy, have more social and school struggles and face a greater risk of heart-health problems in adulthood.

Mouse Genetics Are A Resource For Human Genetics
Mouse gene knockouts will empower mammalian gene studies for a generation.


June 15, 2011--------News Archive

Taming the Molecule's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Two forms of a molecule are called enantiomers and can have radically different properties in biology. Thalidomide is a good example of how different forms of the same molecule can have disastrous consequences.

Fear Activates Young, Immature Infant Brain Cells
Fear burns memories into our brain, and new research by University of California, Berkeley, neuroscientists explains how.


June 14, 2011--------News Archive

Malnourishment - Pregnant or Lactating - Key to Diseases in Children
Study in primates establishes critical role that undernourishment in mothers-to-be and lactating females has in creating type 2 diabetes in offspring.

We Are All Mutants
The first whole-genome measure of human mutation predicts 60 new mutations exist within each of us at birth.

Canadian Women On Technology Used in Childbirth
This generation's choice of C-section does not reflect knowledge of the procedure's complications to mother and child.


June 13, 2011--------News Archive

Cell Division Linked to Oxygen Levels
Johns Hopkins reports that the MCM proteins, which promote cell division, also directly control the oxygen-sensing HIF-1 protein which controls cell division.

Many Genetic Keys Needed to Unlock Autism
Hundreds of small genetic variations are associated with autism spectrum disorders, including an area of DNA that may be key to understanding why humans are social animals.

Children Eschew the Fat - If Dad Says So
Dad's choice of where to eat could literally tip the scales on his children's health.

Mom's B Vitamins Lower Child's Colorectal Cancer
Mice born to mothers who are fed a diet supplemented with B vitamins are less likely to develop intestinal tumors

WHO Child Growth Charts

A new study published by the American Physiological Society offers the strongest evidence yet that vulnerability to type 2 diabetes can begin in the womb, giving new insight into the mechanisms that underlie a potentially devastating disease at the center of a worldwide epidemic.

The study, conducted in baboon primates, finds that when mothers are even moderately undernourished while pregnant and breastfeeding, their offspring are consistently found to be prediabetic before adolescence. It is the first time that diabetes has been shown to have prenatal origins in a primate model.

According to Peter W. Nathanielsz, senior author of the study, “We pass more biological milestones before we are born and in the early weeks of life than at any other time.” Poor maternal nutrition, which translates to less sustenance for growing fetuses, is a stubborn problem in parts of the U.S. and the developing world, Nathanielsz said.

Thus, “Poor nutrition at critical periods of development can hinder growth of essential organs such as the pancreas, which sees a significantly decrease in its ability to secrete insulin. Our study is the first to show in a primate that poor nutrition during fetal and early life can damage the pancreas and predispose one to type 2 diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body develops resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

Although the body may initially compensate by secreting more insulin, eventually the pancreas cannot produce enough of the hormone to keep blood sugar from rising. In poorly controlled diabetes, elevated blood sugar severely damages the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. The consequences can be fatal and include heart disease, stroke, amputations, blindness and kidney failure.

Worldwide, diabetes is an escalating public health crisis. According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), 366 million people will be diabetic by the 2030, up from 171 million in 2000. This is a 114 percent projected increase.

Formerly called “adult-onset diabetes,” type 2 diabetes is seen increasingly in children at earlier and earlier ages.

Excess body weight and physical inactivity are known causes, but Nathanielsz and his collaborators have long been interested in whether some individuals might be predisposed to diabetes from birth, or even earlier. Nathanielsz conducts research on this and similar topics through the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research in the UT Health Science Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

For this study, to avoid the complication of influences from genes, researchers selected 18 female baboons similar in age and other observable characteristics and housed them with a fertile male baboon.

All the females became pregnant. But beginning at 30 days of gestation, 12 females were randomly assigned to be fed an appropriate diet for their weight, while the other six received 70 percent of the chow given to control females on a weight-adjusted basis.

The pregnant baboons continued on their respective diets through delivery and the weaning of their offspring. Once the young baboons were weaned, they were fed normal diets.

Just before they reached puberty, the six young baboons from nutritionally restricted mothers showed increases in fasting glucose, fasting insulin and other hallmarks of prediabetes. The 12 young baboons whose mothers received adequate nutrition displayed none of these traits.

The central importance of this observation is that the mothers’ food intake was only moderately restricted – similar to the decrease faced in the United State by many people living with food insecurity. There are 925 million undernourished people worldwide, including 19 million in developed countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The researchers conclude that even moderate nutrient deficiencies during pregnancy result in offspring predisposed to type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are exposed to other risk factors in later life, such as a Western diet and physical inactivity leading to obesity.

A fetus may also receive fewer nutrients due to teenage pregnancy, where the growing mother competes with her offspring for resources; in pregnancies complicated by maternal vascular disease, which may occur in women who become pregnant later in their reproductive life; and when placental problems exist. The decrease in fetal growth observed in the newborn baboons was only about 10 percent, very similar to many human babies born growth restricted.

According to Dr. Nathanielsz, the next step is separating the effect of nutrient deficiencies experienced during pregnancy from those that occur during breastfeeding.

The study, “Emergence of insulin resistance in juvenile baboon offspring of mothers exposed to moderate maternal nutrient reduction” was conducted by Nathanielsz and colleagues Jaehyek Choi, Cun Li, and Thomas J. McDonald of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Anthony Comuzzie and Vicki Mattern of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It is published in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. The full study appears at http://bit.ly/lEvYkJ. Original article: http://www.the-aps.org/press/releases/11/19.htm