The placenta plays a crucial role in pregnancy, as it is what connects the fetus to the mother. All important means of life like food and water is passed from the mother through the placenta. However, other than these necessary needs, the placenta also passes hormones to the child.
If the mother releases the stress hormone cortisol, it gets passed on to the fetus and can seriously hamper its brain development. Cortisol consists of an enzyme termed as 11β-HSD2, and it controls the flow of the cortisol. The enzymes get reduced when the mother is stressed out, and this leads to the release of more cortisol.
The development of the fetal brain can be seriously compromised in such a situation.
The Placenta and the Fetal Brain:
All the essential nutrients that the fetus needs for its overall growth is transported from the mother by the placenta. These nutrients are crucial for the development of the fetus’ brain, which grows significantly during the prenatal stage. What starts as a neural tube measuring only 3 mm, grows into 100 billion neurons.
The brain continues to grow until 18 months of age. By this time, the baby can walk properly, and talk as well. It is facilitated by such things as baby walkers that help the baby to learn walking. A baby as young as 8 months, begins to crawl around the house and this period can be very risky, as it can cause accidents.
It is best to fix baby gates in and around the house to ensure your child’s safety. All these activities that the baby can gradually do are because of the precursor cells that move around to different parts of the brain. The process of neural pruning continues until the child attains puberty, and is a process in which excess neurons are continuously gotten rid of. Brain growth might continue up to adulthood, which is called adult neurogenesis, but significant growth takes place well before birth, inside the womb.