What Is the Role of Mitosis in Fetal Development

(October 26, 2010)

Mitosis is a type of cellular division where the cell divides into two equal halves. This type of division is very important in fetal development as this forms the basis of embryology. In humans, when a sperm fertilizes an egg cell, a cell called a zygote is formed. When this cell starts dividing by mitosis, the resulting structure is called an embryo. This mitotic division continues throughout the embryo development till the baby is born. Eight weeks after the fertilization period the embryo is called a fetus.

The role of mitosis in fetal development is very crucial. The cells of the embryo continuously divide and re-divide to form three distinct layers called as germ layers. These are the ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. These layers differentiate into various types of tissues, and then organs in the later fetal development stages. So by continuous mitosis, these cells differentiate into various tissues like the nervous tissue and muscle tissue. These tissues differentiate into organs like the brain, heart, limbs, and spinal cord. Fetal development week by week includes differentiation of cells into tissues and finally into fully functional organs, giving rise to a multicellular human being. By the eighth week, i.e., when the fetal stage is reached, the baby’s brain development is underway, his/her heart starts beating, and limb buds are visible. During the ninth– twelfth weeks the red blood cells are formed, genitals appear, the baby’s face is well formed, and tooth buds for baby teeth appear. In the thirteenth– fourteenth weeks, his/her skin is almost visible, and the baby starts making active movements.
In the 17–25 weeks period, the mother can feel the baby’s movements. The baby has the ability to hear. Eyebrows, eyelashes, nails, and air sacs in lungs are all fully developed. The twenty-sixth to thirty-fourth week period shows rapid brain development; the bones are developed completely by this time, and the body begins to store fat. By the forty-second week, all the organs are functional before birth. Role of mitosis in fetal development stages is important as any impairment in this process may hamper the normal development of the baby.

If there is any problem during mitosis, the cell will not divide normally or may divide abnormally. This will affect the process of cellular division, which is responsible for tissue and organ development. For all the organs to develop normally and function optimally, the role of mitosis in fetal development should remain consistent throughout embryonic development till child birth. Abnormal mitosis may give rise to various complications in the baby before and after birth.

Submitted by N on October 26, 2010 at 11:32

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