Factors Affecting Fetal Development

The process of fetal development starts from fertilization of the ovum till the delivery of the baby. A healthy baby is the dream of every mother. She takes all possible steps needed for the growth of her baby. It is worthwhile to keep in mind there are several factors that affect the development of a fetus.

fetal development

Factors That Affect Fetal Development

Maternal Nutrition

A baby derives the nourishment for its growth from the mother’s blood. A baby requires several nutrients for its growth. The demands for nutrients vary with each phase of development. Folic acid is needed for the development of neural tube, calcium for bones, proteins for muscle growth and repair etc. So it is necessary that the mother takes a well balanced healthy food, to supply adequate nutrients for the growth of her baby.


After the implantation of the fetus, there occurs hormonal changes in the body of the mother that makes it difficult for her to smoke, drink, take certain food etc. Smoking definitely affects the fetal development. Smoking increase the risk of having a low birth weight baby.

Factors Affecting Fetal Development

It also increases the risk for prematurity. Smoking reduces the supply of oxygen received by the baby and increases the risk of miscarriage. Smoking also predisposes the baby to early health complications like respiratory distress. It is always best to stop smoking during pregnancy.


Drinking again can cause miscarriages. Drinking causes the child to develop mental abnormalities, learning disabilities, behaviour disorders etc. There is no confirmed data as to show how much drinking is harmful. So, in the best interests of the baby, it is good to stop drinking. Exposure to alcohol before birth causes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in children; heavy drinking causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

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Certain diseases cause deformities in the baby. This includes Toxoplasma, German Measles, Chicken pox, Herpes etc. There are immunizations available for these diseases. Chicken pox usually causes malformed limb or sudden labour. German measles and toxoplasma infections causes developmental abnormalities in the baby like mental retardation, blindness etc.


Drugs and chemicals can cross into the fetal blood, affecting its development. Stay clear of addictive drugs like cocaine, heroine etc. This can also lead to addictions in the baby.

Factors Affecting Fetal Development

It is best to check with your doctor before taking in medications or herbs. Some of the drugs that are considered dangerous to the baby include aspirin, ibuprofen, anti convulsants, anti migraine drugs etc.

Maternal Age

Maternal age does influence the fetal development. There are chances for miscarriages and still births in mothers below 20 years old. However, with far advancing age there are chances for various abnormalities. There are chances for birth defects, still births, bleeding etc. in mothers over 35 years. The mothers themselves may get hypertension or diabetes after 35 years. Chances for caesarian section too is high with advancing age.

Prenatal Care

Prenatal visits to the doctor are extremely important. The doctor monitors the growth of the baby. The doctor recommends supplements or other vitamins as and when necessary. You may be experiencing some new symptoms or side effects. Only a professional help can know what is normal and what is not.

Photo Credit: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical/IM04609