During the 9 months from conception to birth, there are many influences that affect the development of the fetus. These influences can be environmental and/or genetic. This brings you back to the nature-nurture question you examined in Week 1. To what degree does genetic makeup influence development of the fetus? To what degree does environment influence the development? What determines the child’s gender, hair color, eye color, temperament, health, and ability to learn?
This week, you examine both genetic and environmental influences on fetal development.

  • Analyze environmental and genetic influences on fetal development
  • Analyze scenarios for short-term developmental outcomes


Both environmental and genetic influences impact fetal development. Some substances (e.g., folic acid, hormones, etc.) have the biggest influence at sensitive periods during gestation. Early in gestation, when neurological development is at its peak, folic acid is most important. Hormones, such as androgen and estrogen, are necessary for external genital differentiation between 9 and 12 weeks of gestation. Prenatal alcohol exposure, however, can impact fetal growth at any time during gestation. On the other hand, environmental influences such as maternal genetics, nutrition, health, and immunization can have a positive impact on fetal development, mitigating the impact of substances and other negative influences. In addition to environmental influences, you must also consider the impact of genetic influences. Genes determine not only an individual’s physical features at birth—they also contribute to hormonal processes throughout the lifespan. The interaction of environmental influences and genetic influences impacts the development of a fetus.

For this Discussion, you will examine environmental and genetic influences on fetal development.

 Select one genetic influence and one environmental influence on fetal development and think about how these influences might impact each other.

 Post a brief description of the genetic influence and the environmental influence you selected. Then, explain how the environmental influence might positively or negatively affect the development of a fetus with the genetic influence you selected. Be specific and provide examples. Use your Learning Resources to support your post. Use proper APA format and citations. 

  • Chapter 2, “Genetic and Environmental Foundations” (pp. 42-72)
  • Chapter 3, “Prenatal Development, Birth, and the Newborn Baby” (pp. 74-111)

Berk, L. E. (2018). Development through the lifespan (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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