Causes of abnormal fetus development

There are several factors that may impact the fetus during any and perhaps all stages of development. Women who are pregnant have a unique interaction with the fetus by way of the placenta which provides the entire fetal environment. Therefore, many components may play an important role during the prenatal development period.

According to (Kail-Wicks-Nelson 1993, p.52)

“a basic principle of prenatal growth is that structure is emerged in a fixed order and that rapid differentiation and growth occur during critical periods.”

Therefore, it is very important, for one who is expecting, to be mindful and cognizant of proper nutrition, rest and exercise. Additionally, securing significant health care should be a primary focus, for it is the mother seeks proper medical care, and adhering to her physician’s recommendations and instructions, may also help to avoid problems during the pregnancy. Furthermore, there are environmental stressors that one must be aware of as well; since stress hormones can pass through the placenta they may also influence the growth of the fetus. Therefore, whenever the expectant mother experiences prolonged high-levels of stress and anxiety often places the unborn child at risk of developing behavioral problems due to increased emotionality (Broderick & Blewitt, 2006).

Maternal diseases, such as AIDS, Syphilis, Pneumonia, Mumps and Rubella can also lead to prenatal damage, including but not limited to, brain damage, heart disease, prematurely, malformations and death. However, regarding heredity diseases, the genetic make-up and combination of both parents may contribute to diseases such as Huntington’s chorea which is a fatal disease characterized by progressive mental deterioration and degeneration of the nervous system and Phenylketonuria (PKU) which attacks the nervous system causing progressive brain damage leading to mental retardation (Broderick & Blewitt, 2006).

Lastly, teratogens are chemical agents such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine and heroine can also fracture the development of the fetus. For example, expectant mothers engaging or participating in these high-risk activities are likely to expose the unborn child to a host of prenatal problems such as low bright weight, learning disabilities as well as structural malformations (Broderick & Blewitt, 2006).

Gaining a deeper and richer understanding of the many possible factors that may have interfered or disrupted the prenatal developmental process will hopefully provide this learner with the professional techniques needed to properly develop a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan. 


Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2006). The life span: Human development for helping professionals (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Kail, RV, & Wicks-Nelson, R. (1993). Developmental psychology. (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.