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Living with Spina BifidaA Guide for Families and Professionals$
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Adrian Sandler, M.D.

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780807855478

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807867860_sandler

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Neural Tube Defects

Neural Tube Defects

(p.11) Chapter 2 Neural Tube Defects
Living with Spina Bifida

Adrian Sandler

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter begins with the first part of the miraculous development of the human embryo. A single cell, the fertilized egg, rapidly divides and divides again to form a sphere, which begins to differentiate into a tiny disk from which the embryo itself develops. The disk, barely a millimeter in length, or the size of a comma, includes an inner layer (endoderm), which will give rise to the gut; a middle layer (mesoderm), from which will develop the heart and circulatory system, muscles, and bones; and an outer layer (ectoderm), from which the skin and central nervous system develop. The chapter picks up events at around eighteen days. The part of the ectoderm that is to become the nervous system (the neurectoderm) is made up of two neural folds running from the head to the tail of the embryo, which still measures less than two millimeters (the length of a sesame seed).

Keywords:   human embryo, single cell, fertilized egg, endoderm, mesoderm, ectoderm, neurectoderm

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