Development in children occurs from birth to adolescence. However, multiple aspects affect their development. These include; continuity versus discontinuity. The continuous event marks a smooth progression whereas discontinuous development is characterized by abrupt shifts. A Childs learning ability begins during their prenatal months. For instance, during pregnancy, a baby can have the capability to distinguish simple sounds. Therefore, the experiences of a fetus in a mother's uterus prepare them for an external world.
Prenatal memory is a continuous activity that is significant for maternal recognition and attachment. Prenatally, a fetus learns its mother's speech characteristic which later allows it to prefer it to other female voices after birth. Language learning in babies before birth is a discontinuous activity. Babies' ability to memorize their mothers' speech patterns can later determine their vocalization melody pattern. This particular act of development is not smooth and varies among babies depending on the surrounding language.
During pregnancy, maternal stress can increase the risk of altered neurodevelopmental outcomes in a newborn (Cynthia Lightfoot, Michael Cole, Sheila R. Cole, 2012). While under stress or emotional upset, pregnant women secret adrenal and cortisol hormones, which find their way to the placenta. As a result, this can have measurable effects on the motor activity of the fetus. Research indicates that planned pregnancies can be associated with a moderate amount of stress as opposed to unwanted pregnancies. Maternal stress can have short or long-term effects on children.
Stress can trigger hormonal changes in pregnant women which might result in higher incidences of preterm birth, the risk of miscarriage or small birth weight and length. Similarly, post-natal care can also influence baby's development due to stress. Lack of intimacy with newborns can cause them stress which might have effects on their later stages of development. These include problems with emotional reactivity, attention, and self-esteem.
Even though most newborns lack serious problems, some of them are usually in a poor physical state that they die immediately or after a short while. Also, others are generally at risk of later developmental problems. During the gestation period, there are agents or factors which might lead to embryo malformation. These underlying elements are known as teratogens. There are various principles regarding teratogenic effects. One such principle is that individual organisms differ in susceptibility to teratogens.
Some common types of teratogens include Androgenic agents, Nicotine, alcohol, Aminopterin, Phenytoin, Lithium carbonate among others. Notably, individuals react differently to teratogens. For instance, Ionization radiation might damage an embryo as a result of chromosome injury or cell death. However, the extent of damage may depend on the dosage and the fetus development stage in which the exposure occurred as studied in the Japanese atomic bombing. Also, congenital malformations might rely on familial distributions in line with genetic factors. Examples of such inheritance include neural tube defects, congenital hip dislocation, and cleft lip.
During the gestation period, most parents tend to develop some expectations regarding their babies' characteristics. After birth, they begin to examine physical looks and behaviors for a specific hint of its future. One such significant expectation is the sex of the baby.
According to a study on ultrasound pictures shown to parents, female fetus is rated as softer, calmer, delicate, cuddlier and more beautiful than the male fetuses. Another study regarding the description of newborn babies found out that daughters were described as pretty, cute and resembling their mother. On the other hand, sons were described as big and resembling their fathers. Such findings indicate sex-typing of babies.
The reasons behind sex-typing are for the determination of babies' name, dressing, treatment and future expectations. Such expectations are usually based on cultural ideas of male and female experiences to be encountered later in life.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Cynthia Lightfoot, Michael Cole, Sheila R. Cole. (2012). The Development of Children. New York: Worth Publishers.
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