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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.


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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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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal 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 HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
Click weeks 0 - 40 and follow fetal growth
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December 9, 2011--------News Archive

Steroid Increases Life Expectancy for Preemies
Giving antenatal corticosteroids to moms expecting preterm infants - between 22 and 25 weeks gestation - reduces infant death and long-term impairment.

A New Understanding of How Our Lungs Grow
New research challenges the medical textbooks and declares that the tiny airsacs continue to increase in number as we grow to adulthood.

Early Pregnancy Stress, Pre-Term Birth, Fewer Boys
Stress in the second and third months of pregnancy can shorten pregnancies, increase the risk of pre-term births and lead to a decline in male babies.

December 8, 2011--------News Archive

Mother's Touch Protects Child Against Drug Cravings
Attentive, nurturing mothering may help her children better resist the temptations of drug use later in life.

Flu Vaccine Protects Pregnant Mom and New-Borns
The influenza shot boosts the immune response in pregnant women and protects neuronatal babies via antibodies transferred through the placenta.

Tadpoles Made to Grow Eyes on Back and Tail
Changing the voltage in embryonic frog cell of tadpole's back causes cell to develop into a functioning eye.

December 7, 2011--------News Archive

Baby See, Baby Do?
Study shows infants take cues from trusted sources only, and ignore unreliable faces.

Bitter Taste of Broccoli Not Just About Flavor
Broccoli’s taste is not just a matter of having a cultured palate; some people actually taste a bitter compound in the vegetable that others cannot.

Game Players Advance Genetic Research
Users of the game Phylo, designed by McGill University researchers, are contributing to analysis of DNA sequences in Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer.

December 6, 2011--------News Archive

One Quarter of Families Begin Before 24 Years Old
National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, looked at the different paths to family formation. Results looks at the experiences of young adults through age 25.

Orphans Undergo Biological Change to Their Genome
Changes can be seen in the genetic regulation of the immune system, including a number of important mechanisms in the development and function of the brain.

Child Abuse Changes the Brain
Brain imaging reveals the same pattern of brain activity in these children as seen in soldiers in war.

December 5, 2011--------News Archive

Defect in Brain May Cause Autism-Like Syndrome
Autism in Timothy Syndrome has been found to produce fewer cells connecting both halves of the brain, and overproduce dopamine and norepinephrine.

Flipping Off the Switch that Causes Aging
For the first time, Harvard scientists have partially reversed age-related degeneration in mice, resulting in new growth of the brain and testes, improved fertility, and the return of lost cognitive function.

Mapping the Neurons Created in Youth
Harvard study of brain development may shed light on brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

WHO Child Growth Charts



An attentive, nurturing mother may be able to help her children better resist the temptations of drug use later in life, according to a study in rats conducted by Duke University and the University of Adelaide in Australia.

A rat mother's attention in early childhood actually changes the immune response in the brains of her pups by permanently altering genetic activity, according to Staci Bilbo, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, who led the research. High-touch mothering increased the brain's production of an immune system molecule called Interleukin-10, leaving these rats better able to resist the temptation of a dose of morphine much later in life.

This is the first study to show how morphine causes a molecular response in the glial cells of the brain's reward centers, which had only recently been identified as part of drug addiction's circuitry. "We set out to find out what that response looks like," Bilbo said.

To program some of the rat pups to produce more IL-10, the researchers used an established technique called the "handling paradigm," in which very young rat pups are removed from their mother's cage for 15 minutes and then returned. "As soon as they're returned, she checks them out vigorously," grooming the pups and cleaning them, Bilbo said. For a control group, another set of pups were never removed. Some of them had more attentive mothers than others, just by natural variation.

The animals then were put through a test called the "place preference chamber," a two-roomed cage in which they would be given a dose of morphine if they entered one side, or a dose of saline on the other. Over the next four weeks, the rats were returned to the two-sided chamber three times a week for five minutes, but were never given another dose of morphine. Initially, they all showed a preference for the morphine side, but over time, the handled rats showed little preference, which indicated their craving had been "extinguished," Bilbo said.

About 8 weeks after their first exposure to morphine, the animals were each given a very small dose of morphine to prime craving and then returned to the 2-sided chamber. The non-handled control rats preferred spending time in the morphine chamber; the handled rats still showed no clear preference.

Morphine activates the glial cells of the brain to produce inflammatory molecules which signal a reward center of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. But IL-10 works against that inflammation and reward. The more IL-10 the brain produces, the less likely morphine would cause an increase in craving or relapse weeks after the initial experience with the drug.

The brains of the rat pups who experienced high-touch mothering were found to have more active genes for producing IL-10 in the microglial cells of the brain, which apparently "completely knocked out this drug-seeking behavior," Bilbo said. They were producing about four times as much IL-10 as the control animals. "The nurturing moms can profoundly change outcomes," Bilbo said.

This is a change not of the genes themselves, but of the way they are controlled by something called methylation, which can keep a gene's activity suppressed. High-touch mothering removed methylation on the IL-10 gene, making these rats produce more of the anti-inflammatory molecule.

To further prove that IL-10 levels were key to the craving, the researchers used a drug called ibudilast to artificially increase IL-10 production in a group of control rats. These rats experience craving extinction much the same as the high-touch rats.

It's important to note that the genetic modification created by the mothering didn't change the initial rewarding effect of the morphine, it altered the craving for that reward much later, Bilbo said.

Bilbo said her team next wants to look at the long-term effects of maternal stress on the brain's immune response. They'll be working with the Children's Environmental Health Initiative at Duke, which examines real-world environmental health effects in Durham, NC in collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

CITATION: "Early-Life Experience Decreases Drug-Induced Reinstatement of Morphine CPP in Adulthood via Microglial-Specific Epigenetic Programming of Anti-Inflammatory IL-10 Expression," Jaclyn M. Schwarz, Mark R. Hutchinson and Staci D. Bilbo. The Journal of Neuroscience, Dec. 6, 2011. DOI -10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3297-11.2011

Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-12/du-amt120511.php