Hazards during the prenatal period
At no other time during the life span are there more serious hazards to development or hazards of a more serious nature, than during the relatively short period before birth. These may be physical or psychological.
The zygote will die of starvation if it has too little yolk to keep it alive until it can lodge itself in the uterine wall or if it remains too long in the tube.
Implantation cannot occur if, as a result of glandular imbalance, the uterine walls are not prepared in time to receive the zygote.
If the zygote becomes attached to a small fibroid tissue in the uterine wall or to the wall of the Fallopian tube, it cannot get nourishment and will die.
Falls, emotional shocks, malnutrition, glandular disturbances, vitamin deficiency, and serious diseases such as pneumonia and diabetes, can cause the embryo to become dislodged from its place in the uterine wall, resulting in a miscarriage. Miscarriages that are due to unfavourable conditions in the prenatal environment are likely to occur between the tenth and eleventh week after conception.
Maternal malnutrition, vitamin and glandular deficiencies; excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; and diseases, such as diabetes and German measles, interfere with normal development, especially that of the embryonic brain.
Miscarriages are always possible upto the fifth month of pregnancy; the most vulnerable time is when the woman's menstrual period would normally occur.
Fetuses which weigh less than 1 kg have less chance of surviving than heavier fetuses and a greater chance of developing malformations.
Maternal stress affects uterine contractions and is likely to lead to complications during birth.
Any of the unfavorable environmental conditions present during the period of the embryo will also affect the development of fetal features and retard the whole pattern of fetal development. Psychological Hazards -Like the physical hazards associated with the prenatal period, the psychological hazards can have persistent effects on the individual's development and can influence the postnatal environment and the treatment the child receives from significant people during the early formative years. The three important psychological hazards are traditional beliefs about prenatal development, maternal stress during the period and unfavourable attitude towards the unborn child on the part of people who will play significant roles in the child's life.
Traditional belief include-how one can predict the sex of an unborn child from heart-beat test or sliva test.
Twins were believed to be caused by evil spirits and thus were feared and rejected by the social group. Stress can be the result of fear, anger, grief, jealousy etc. Maternal stress can start from not wanting a child to any disturbance in the feelings and thought of the child unfavourable on others on the part of the father to be who blames his wife for being careless and make her feel guilty about not preventing the pregnancy or attitude toward children of multiple birth and many such unfavorable attitudes have far reaching influence on development.
The second and important stage in the life span is 'infancy'. This stage will deal with characteristics of infancy, adjustments, kinds of birth and activities.