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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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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 3, 2011--------News Archive

Rett Syndrome May be Treatable In Near Future
Rett has been considered a neurodevelopmental disorder, as symptoms appear in early childhood. However, these same symptoms appear after removal of Mecp2 in adult mice, suggesting it is critical to all normal brain functioning.

Color Red Increases Speed and Strength of Reactions
When humans see red, their reactions become both faster and more forceful. And people are unaware of the color's intensifying effect.

June 2, 2011--------News Archive

Coffee Tied To Lower Prostate Cancer Risk
Regular coffee drinkers appear to have a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostate cancer, evident in men who drank regular or decaffeinated coffee.

Mom's Placental Size Predicts Son's Heart Disease
Researchers investigating the foetal origins of chronic disease have discovered that combinations of a mother's body size and the shape and size of her baby's placenta can predict heart disease in men in later life.

June 1, 2011--------News Archive

Linking Environment and Genetics Triggering MS
Evironmental and inherited risk factors associated with multiple sclerosis converge to alter a critical cell function linked to the chronic neurologic disease.

Kids Who Bully Have Sleep Problems
Urban schoolchildren with behaviors like bullying more likely to have sleep-disordered breathing or daytime sleepiness.

Infrared Device Can Diagnose Bladder Dysfunction
A cell phone-sized, wireless near-infrared device is as reliable as the current “gold standard” invasive tests in determining bladder disease.

May 31, 2011--------News Archive

Why Does Flu Trigger Asthma?
Study suggests new therapeutic targets for virally-induced asthma attacks.

Healthy Kids For Women with Mitochondrial Disease
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can give women at risk of passing on a mitochondrial DNA disorder to their offspring, a good chance of being able to give birth to an unaffected child.

May 30, 2011--------News Archive

Link Between Estrogen And Blood Pressure Found
Researchers have found that long-term estrogen exposure generates excessive levels of the compound superoxide, which causes stress in the body.

Key Molecule for Stem Cell Pluripotency Discovered
Researchers have discovered what enables embryonic stem cells to differentiate into diverse cell types and thus to be pluripotent.

WHO Child Growth Charts

Researchers investigating the foetal origins of chronic disease have discovered that combinations of a mother's body size and the shape and size of her baby's placenta can predict heart disease in men in later life. The research is published online today in the European Heart Journal [1].

Professor David Barker and colleagues studied 6975 men born in Helsinki (Finland) between 1934-1944 – a time when not only was the babies' size at birth recorded but also the size of the placental surface. Other available information included details of the mothers' height and weight in late pregnancy, age, parity, and date of last menstrual period.

They found that there were three combinations of mother's body size and placental shape and size that predicted coronary heart disease in boys when they reached late adulthood (from about aged 40 onwards):

An oval-shaped placental surface in short mothers who had not been pregnant before – the narrower the placental surface in relation to its length, the more the risk of heart disease rose, increasing by 14% for each centimetre increase in the difference between the length and breadth of the surface.

A small placental surface in tall, heavy women (those with a body mass index (BMI) over 26 kg/m2, the middle value for the women in the study); in these men their risk of heart disease rose by a quarter (25%) per 40cm2 decrease in the surface area.

A large placental weight in relation to birthweight in babies born to tall mothers with a BMI below 26 kg/m2; these men had a seven percent increased risk for every one percent larger ratio of placental weight to birthweight.

The associations were independent of the social class of the men or the family into which they were born.

Prof Barker, who is Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton (UK) and Professor in Cardiovascular Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University (USA), has already discovered that there is a link between placental weight and heart disease in later live, but placental weight does not indicate the size of the surface that is available for absorbing and delivering nutrients for the growing baby.

"Due to the fact that the shape and size as well as the weight of the placenta were routinely measured at the birth of this group of men, we have been able to show for the first time that a combination of the mother's body size and the shape and size of the placental surface predicts later heart disease," he said.

For each of the three combinations, the babies that developed heart disease in later life tended to be thinner than average, which indicated that they were undernourished at birth.

Prof Barker said that he thought the explanation for the first combination (oval placental surface in women who have not been pregnant before) is that "an oval placental surface is an indication that the implantation of the placenta was disrupted in early pregnancy, leading to foetal under-nutrition, which, in turn, programmes coronary heart disease in later life".

The mechanisms that may play a role in disrupting the implantation of the placenta are not yet fully understood.

For the second combination (small placental surface in tall, heavy women), Prof Barker said: "Although the mother is tall and has a BMI of over 26 kg/m2, indicating that she was well-nourished at the time of her pregnancy, placental growth depends on the structure and function of the mother's uterine wall, which is established during her own foetal life. Therefore, her own foetal experience necessarily affects placentation in her offspring. Foetal growth depends on the availability of nutrients. Restricted placental growth may, paradoxically, have a greater effect in babies who are growing rapidly because their mothers are well-nourished. We think that these babies were able to grow rapidly at first, but the small placenta started to restrict their growth mid-gestation, so that by the time they were born, they were under-nourished."

For the third combination (large placental weight in relation to birthweight in babies born to tall women below the average weight), Prof Barker believes the explanation lies in what the mother ate during pregnancy.

"Tallness indicates good nutrition before pregnancy, but their low body mass index indicates poor nutrition during pregnancy," he said.

Prof Barker says that this research is further evidence of the long-term effect of foetal development. "Chronic disease is the product of a mother's lifetime nutrition and the early growth of her child. It is not simply a consequence of poor lifestyles in later life. Rather it is a result of variations in the normal processes of human development."

Now the researchers plan to study the diets and body characteristics (body size and shape, fat and lean mass) of pregnant women, the growth patterns of their babies before birth using ultrasound, and the placentas of their offspring.

They hope to discover the links between the mother, her baby's placenta and the development of the baby's cardiovascular system in ways that lead to poor liver and vascular function – two of the primary culprits for heart disease in later life.

[1] "Mother's body size and placental size predict coronary heart disease in men". European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr147

This research was supported by the British Heart Foundation, the Academy of Finland, the Paivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, the Finnish Diabetes Research Foundation, The Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, Yrjo Jahnsson Foundation, Finska Lakaresällskapet, and the M. Lowell Edwards Endowment. Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/esoc-mbs052711.php