For my project I illustrated the growth and development of the placenta throughout a pregnancy. I made sure to label the vili and show the the cells that encompass the villi in the first picture.

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  1. Weighing in at a final weight of one pound at birth, the placenta is vital to uterine fetal development. Its criticality stems from four main functions: fetal protection, gas exchange, metabolic transfer, and hormone secretion. In the early stages of gestation, the placenta is in a very immature state, relying heavily on the corpus luteum for fetal sustainment. During this time, cytrophophlasts and synctiotrophoblasts are exercising fetal protection as blood vessels are reshaped into the uterine wall. The incompatibility of maternal and fetal blood types is trumped due to the presence of the uterine wall. For the placenta to advance towards functional maturity, it undergoes spiral artery remodeling and develops into a major organ. The placenta uses villi to serve as the transfer site of gas exchange. Gas exchange is generated by an exponential increase in fetal oxygen and nutrient demand. Placental maturation occurs at 13 weeks of gestation, enabling the placenta’s metabolic transfer function as wells as chiefly serve in hormone production and secretion. The placenta produces four main hormones: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), human placental lactogen (hPL), estrogen, and progesterone. All four hormones play a key role in fetal growth and development. Additionally, hormone production regulates gestation and birth. The placenta continues its main functions throughout the next 17 weeks of gestation, growing in sync with the growth rate of the fetus. At 34 weeks, the placenta will reach both functional and structural maturity providing fetal sustainment until the fetus has reached full term and is primed for birth.

    Nicholas Morales

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