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The Effect of Alcohol on Prenatal Development Introduction There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a baby in utero. Most of the things that can happen are out of the mother’s control. An example of this is when a baby develops down syndrome. On the other hand, there are some things that mothers have full control of. Alcohol consumption is one of those things. Alcohol can have a huge effect on prenatal development. There are many different consequences that can follow drinking alcohol while pregnant. In the United States many women know that alcohol can have a negative impact on fetuses, but in other countries it is thought that limited consumption of alcohol does not affect the developing fetus. Even though large amounts of alcohol have proven to be detrimental to developing fetuses, do small amounts carry the same weight? Culture is also an important aspect in life. Culture helps mold and shape a child into the person they grow up to be. Culture and religion play a huge part of whether people choose to drink or not drink. In some cultures it is considered impolite or against societal norms to refuse an alcoholic drink. This begs the question, is it okay for pregnant women to consume small amounts of alcohol? The purpose of this paper is to find out at what point developing fetuses are negatively affected by alcohol consumed by the mother, if there are certain stages of development that the child is at less risk for diseases, consequences of too much alcohol, and what environmental factors lead to women drinking while being pregnant. Stages of Development First of all, there are three stages of development that a baby goes through in the womb. To begin with, the baby is first created when the sperm from the father meets with the egg from the mother. Kail and Cavanaugh (2010), explains that all of the different phases in pregnancy are important and each yield development of the child in the womb. The zygote period is from 1-2 weeks and in that short amount of time the zygote is already formed. In fact, in less than a week the zygote is already over 100 cells big. The next stage of pregnancy is when the zygote develops into an embryo. The period of the embryo is from 3-8 weeks. During this stage, within the embryo the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm layers are formed. This is a very important process because everything else from that point on is formed from those three layers. The last stage of pregnancy is the fetus. This stage lasts from 9 weeks until the baby is born. During this stage the baby continues to grow and develop. It is at this stage that the mother will feel the baby kick for the first time (p. 53-57). This brief overview shows how during all three stages of

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