Human embryonic development

The initial stages of human embryonic development (embryogenesis)

Human embryonic development, or human embryogenesis, is the development and formation of the human embryo. It is characterised by the processes of cell division and cellular differentiation of the embryo that occurs during the early stages of development. In biological terms, the development of the human body entails growth from a one-celled zygote to an adult human being. Fertilization occurs when the sperm cell successfully enters and fuses with an egg cell (ovum). The genetic material of the sperm and egg then combine to form the single cell zygote and the germinal stage of development commences.[1] Embryonic development in the human, covers the first eight weeks of development; at the beginning of the ninth week the embryo is termed a fetus. The eight weeks has 23 stages.[2]

Human embryology is the study of this development during the first eight weeks after fertilization. The normal period of gestation (pregnancy) is about nine months or 40 weeks.

The germinal stage refers to the time from fertilization through the development of the early embryo until implantation is completed in the uterus. The germinal stage takes around 10 days.[3] During this stage, the zygote begins to divide, in a process called cleavage. A blastocyst is then formed and implants in the uterus. Embryogenesis continues with the next stage of gastrulation, when the three germ layers of the embryo form in a process called histogenesis, and the processes of neurulation and organogenesis follow.

In comparison to the embryo, the fetus has more recognizable external features and a more complete set of developing organs. The entire process of embryogenesis involves coordinated spatial and temporal changes in gene expression, cell growth and cellular differentiation. A nearly identical process occurs in other species, especially among chordates.

  1. ^ Shrek, S (1 December 2013). "Prenatal Development Definition and Patient Education". Archived from the original on 1 December 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Developmental Stages in Human Embryos".
  3. ^ "germinal stage". Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. Elsevier. Retrieved 6 October 2013.

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