How Long Does it Take for Fetal Development

brain development fetal

Fetal development is a developmental time period of human babies beginning from conception in the mother’s womb right up until full term. Throughout this time, the brain continues to develop and grow. New neurons are being formed, memory is being formed, and the mind takes on abilities which will be used throughout life. It is during this period that the child is at its most flexible and cognitive.

Different Development Phases A Fetal Goes Through

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During the first year of development, brain cells begin to rapidly grow and divide. New neurons are forming and synapses are forming. Memory is taking place and thinking is happening. New connections are forming between brain cells and the brain’s circuits are developing. All this is happening in a very healthy environment.

In the second trimester of fetal development, the baby’s brain reaches full size. It starts to develop in the same way as an adult brain does. The only real difference is that it does not stop growing until after birth. At this time, the baby’s mental abilities are still developing, but not as quickly as a grown adult. Some babies will retain some of their verbal skills, but many do not.

By the end of the third trimester, the baby has developed his or her brain to the extent that it can take on knowledge and concepts independently. Color vision has been developed and some degree of hearing has also been acquired. The baby has a higher awareness of where everything in the environment is located. Babies can walk on their own, recognize and understand words, and have some motor skills. The developing brain is ready to face a new world.

Throughout the fourth and fifth trimesters of pregnancy, the brain continues to grow. New neurons are forming and synapses are growing. New relationships are developing. Most parents will feel that their baby has grown up and can now be home taking care of himself. Unfortunately, the new growth of the brain does not continue beyond birth, and so some people have developmental delays because they did not have the help of early brain development.

Things That Can Hamper Brain Development

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While all of the brain growth that has been happening during the fetal development period is normal, there are instances when a child may have either delays in brain growth or brain damage if he or she had certain problems. For example, if a woman is pregnant with a child who was born with brain defects, the brain growth will most likely be below average. If the infant does not get enough nutrients during the first few months of life or if he or she receives insufficient amounts of oxygen, the brain growth will most likely be stunted. Some people may suffer from a type of cerebral palsy, which can result in delayed brain development or brain injury.

The length of time a person has lived with a disability and the type of brain damage incurred will affect the length of time necessary for normal brain development. Some people never fully recover from brain injuries, while others regain some ability after the age of twenty-one. The brain can work to repair itself over time. Sometimes this happens much more slowly than other times. People will need to wait for several years before they reach normal brain growth, but their capacity to do things will be far greater than what it would be without the disability. Many babies will have some of the same abilities as an older adult.


When a baby is born, he or she receives all the brain development that is needed. There are cases, though, when a baby’s brain is underdeveloped or damaged during birth. This can cause life-long medical conditions that will affect the way that the baby interacts with his or her environment as he or she grows up. These delays can be frustrating for parents, but understanding brain development is key in helping to raise healthy children.

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