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Human development Essay

Life starts at conception. Immediately fertilization takes place changes and events occur that will determine the kind of person to be born. This research tries to find out the effect of early life on the later life of an individual. And if early life affects the later life of the individual, then do children who grow up in violent communities have a tendency to exhibit violent behaviors as adults? The research will apply the cross-sectional design. People who differ in age are studied at the same time. A comparison of age related changes and the social behavior is done.

A hypothesis is put forward and a cross-sectional experiment is done to test it. One advantage of this design is that one can collect data from different ages of children over a short period of time. Stages of human development After fertilization takes place, the zygote is formed. The zygote undergoes cell division some hours after it is formed. It takes one week to reach the uterus. In the uterus there occurs implantation. The zygote makes connection to the blood vessels. This process takes about one week(Brian & Scott, 2005). After the zygote completely implant into the uterus, it becomes the embryo.

This stage occurs between the 3rd week and the 9th week. During this stage the human body structure start to develop. The internal organs also start developing. The embryo consist of three layers: the ectoderm, the outer layer; the endoderm, the middle layer and the endoderm, inner layer. The ectoderm develops into the skin and hair; the mesoderm develops into bones , cartilages and the cardiovascular system ; the third layer develops into the internal organs . The heart start beating after four weeks. By 8 most body organs can be seen in although not well developed. Brian and Scott, 2005 ). The embryo rest in the amniotic sac which contains amniotic fluid.

This fluid protects it. The embryo is connected to the mother via the placenta and the umbilical cord. The development of the embryo follows two principles: the cephalocaudal i. e it develops from head towards the legs and the proximodistal – the parts near the centre of the body develops first e. g the arm develops before the hands (Lichtenberg & Norton,1970). The third stage is the Fetus stage. This stars from the ninth week. At this stage, most body organs start to work.

There is remarkable increase weight. During this period, the body systems like the respiratory system develop. The fetus can move and play in the uterus. It can hear the heart mother’s hear beat and the mother speak. It can detect flavor. The fetus’s senses are developed. The sensory influence can have a lifetime effect on the fetus. A research done by deCasper and Spence( cited in Lorraine ) shows that the last few months of prenatal developments can shape the life of the newborn infant. It can have either positive or negative effect on the infant.

For instance extreme stress in the mother can have several effects: First, the stress tigress the production of hormones which reduces the level of oxygen consumption of the fetus. Second, stress may affect eating habits of the mother thus affecting the fetus in turn. Third, it may cause the mother not to take onto account resting, exercising and may influence her to drink. All these have negative effect on the fetus (Joseph , & Sandraw,1994). The mother’s age. The mother’s age seems to have an effect on the newborn baby. For instance teenage mothers mothers are likely to have problems during pregnancy and during birth.

This is because they may not have the resources and skills to give them a good prenatal care. Again children born by teenage mothers may have problems. However a study ( Leavitt, 1993) revealed that it is the environmental and economic background that affect the child and not necessarily the age of the mother. Also the prenatal care given to the mother determines the behavior of the child. Nevertheless, older women, over 35 years experience more problems during pregnancy than younger women. They also record higher rates of miscarriage and Down ’s syndrome (Cited in Nelson).

In general, for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, the age of the mother should be between 20 to 35 years. Teratogens. : Drugs, deseases and environmental harzards. Teratotegen is anything that affect a pregnancy. Some teratogens are: Drugs: Many drugs consumed by pregnant women pose great danger to the fetus and the mother. This was discovered after a drug called thalidomide caused women to bear children with malformed body organs. Thalidomide was being used by pregnant women to assist them sleep Other examples of teratogens are alcohol, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine and cigarettes. Joseph & Sandraw, 1994).

Diseases: Some diseases do not have any serious effect on the pregnant women. However most viral and bacterial diseases have effect on the pregnancy. The most serious ones are AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis and genital herpes. These may cause low immune system and various disorders in the unborn (Lichtenberg & Norton, 1970). Environmental hazards: The wastes from the industries contain chemicals. These chemicals may be absorbed into the mother’s body in small quantities through breathing and drinks. These cause great damage to the fetus since they are teratogens.

Environmental teratogens are more serious because the mother may not be aware that she is taking it. Thus she may not have control over it. (Joseph &Sandraw, 1994). However some teratogens may be avoided especially those found in food as food additives. Freud(1954) suggested that life starts at birth. Most psychoanalysts of his time believed so. They believed that the brain developed at infancy. Winnicot(cited in Freud) did a research which found that the experience of the unborn is very important the infant. It could have emotional implications that could affect the person even as an adult.

Winnicott observed children and saw that there very many differences. He noted that problems caused during labor could traumatize the baby who develops a lot of distress. He conclusively said that the experience gained in the womb remain in memory for a lifetime. In the womb, traumatized fetus even develops defensive mechanisms to face the expected trouble. Later research therapists conducted research and were able to conclude that early trauma created a lot of fear for the rest of the life of the infant. The feelings of anxiety, seeing being devoured by ogres, falling into a bottomless bit are as a result of early trauma.

An example is given of an infant who was mistakenly exposed to cold in a very cold night (Lorraine). This child always dreamt lying in the refrigerator and this continued even after 30 years. This shows that early trauma caused the infant to expect disaster at any time. However the discovery of the effect of perinatal trauma on the life of an individual helped therapists to treat patients with problems related to early trauma (Freud, 1954). Recent research by perinatal psychologists, neurobiologists, experimental psychologists has shown great connection of fetal trauma to problems experienced later in life.

Initially biologists used to think that the fetus had incomplete myelination of neurons and therefore it could not have memories. Research shows that the thinly myelinated nerves of fetus can transmit waves but at a lower rate. Joseph et al.. Thus the experience gained in the womb may make one to be aware of violence, disaster lack faith. With this in mind, parents have started to consider the unborn as part of the member of the family. A father who played a game with a baby and the mother found that the next baby easily learnt the game.

These parents tried to avid any experiences that may cause fetal distress (Lichtenberg & Norton,1970). Fourteen independent studies have shown the relationship between antenatal maternal anxiety and emotional distress in the child. Prenatal stages are likely to be affected by antenatal stress. These reports have suggested that maternal distress affect the fetus as evidenced by increased fetal heart rate (FHR). This is done by use of ultrasound and monitoring FHR over long periods of time. Both the experimental and distress –induced study design have been employed to achieve this.

For a normal case, at about the 15th week of the pregnancy fetal movements exhibit a certain pattern. As developments progress the fetal movements become dependent on specific heart rate pattern. These patterns finally develop into sleep-wake patterns which characterize stable temporal origination near term. There is a relationship between body movements and FHR accelerations. Fetal behavior is organized in rest – activity or sleep- wake cycle (Lichtenberg & Norton, 970). Effect war and social violence Family violence and trauma caused by war are passed through generations.

Adults who were exposed to abuse and violence are more likely to show violence to their own offspring. They have difficulty forgetting their past and live normally. War and violence are everywhere in our societies. Many ethnic clashes continue for years and our children are being exposed to their effects. The children are being thought that disputes are being solved by use of violence. This violence is passed from generation to generation. Research and behavioral science has began to confront the problems of children exposed to violence. (Heidi, 2002).

Over the last few decades, there has been an increase in the prevalence of domestic violence. Domestic violence has severe effect on families and society in general. Domestic violence can be in the form physical abuse, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. Exposure to violence creates traumatic stress. Traumatic stress can be either short term or long-term. Terr ( cited in Brian & Scott, 20005) describes short term trauma as “Type I” e. g a single event of rape or beating. He described repeated or prolonged trauma as “Type II”. Type II has more serious effects than type I.

Individual exposed to this kind of trauma may develop Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD makes one to show routine withdrawal and oversensitivity. Many children from domestic violence homes show levels of (PTSD) (Leavitt, 1993). If untreated, the children exhibit violent behaviors, delinquency and other social and psychological problems. Since young child do have the ability to express themselves verbally, the emotional problems developed are behavioral such as lack of sleep, feeding problems, inability to concentrate, withdrawn and physical complaints.

The pre-adolescents child may in addition to the above problems show loss of interest in peers, poor self concept violence,, defiant behavior and temper out bursts. Adolescents are likely to fail academically and start abusing drugs. Youth who exhibit violent behaviors can be traced to families experiencing domestic violence. An estimated 20% 30% of dating teenagers abuse or are being abused by their partners mentally, sexually, emotionally or physically. Between 30% and 50 % of adult relationships show the same cycle of violence (Leavitt, 1993)

Nelson ( 2000), points out that community violence also has an impact on children who were victimized or who witnessed member of community or family members being victimized get affected. The effect of violence spread to even those children who are not directly affected by violence. Violence tampers with activities of the child which might make the child a better person. Impact of violence on the child depends on the level of development of the child. Early exposure to violence is more detrimental than later exposure( p. 266) In 1995 FBI report it reported that 27% of all violent crime involved domestic violence.

All forms of violence affect the child’s mind. One study was done to show the connection between the brain and someone’s violence. Psychologists observed brain imaging data for a great number of people with violent behaviors. The research focused on specific brain regions. One was the orbital frontal cortex and the amyglada. The results showed that most of the cases, there was absence of normal activity in the orbital and anterior regions. While the shoed normal activity. The two regions will not counteract and this may explain some people are hyper aroused ( Lorraine).


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