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2: Conception, Heredity, and Prenatal Development

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    Learning Objectives

    After this chapter, you should be able to:

    1. Evaluate roles of nature and nurture in development.
    2. Define genes and chromosomes.
    3. Differentiate mitosis and meiosis.
    4. Explain dominant and recessive patterns on inheritance.
    5. List common genetic disorders and chromosomal abnormalities.
    6. Describe changes that occur within each of the three periods of prenatal development.
    7. Recognize the risks to prenatal development posed by exposure to teratogens.
    8. Evaluate different types of prenatal assessment.

    In this chapter, we will begin by examining some of the ways in which heredity helps to shape the way we are. We will look at what happens genetically during conception, and describe some known genetic and chromosomal disorders. Next we will consider what happens during prenatal development, including the impact of teratogens. We will also discuss the impact that both the mother and father have on the developing fetus.

    • 2.1: Heredity
      Most scholars agree that there is a constant interplay between nature (heredity) and nurture (the environment). It is difficult to isolate the root of any single characteristic as a result solely of nature or nurture, and most scholars believe that even determining the extent to which nature or nurture impacts a human feature is difficult to answer. In fact, almost all human features are polygenic (result of many genes) and multifactorial (result of many factors, both genetic and environmental).
    • 2.2: Prenatal Development
      Now we turn our attention to prenatal development which is divided into three periods: The germinal period, the embryonic period, and the fetal period. The following is an overview of some of the changes that take place during each period.
    • 2.S: Summary

    2: Conception, Heredity, and Prenatal Development is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paris, Ricardo, Raymond, & Johnson.

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