August 29, 2010

24 Weeks

(Still rocking the papaya)

Your baby's growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him at just over a pound. Since he's almost a foot long (picture an ear of corn), he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point, but his body is filling out proportionally and he'll soon start to plump up. His brain is also growing quickly now, and his taste buds are continuing to develop. His lungs are developing "branches" of the respiratory "tree" as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once he hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.

He will continue to gain weight in muscles, developing organs and the deposit of brown fat. The purpose of the brown fat is to retain body heat. Newborns are notoriously bad at regulating body temperature at first. This is particularly a problem for a baby born early. Changes are occurring in lung development so some babies are able to survive (with intensive care services) if born today. Surviving babies may have disabilities and require long-term intensive care. A good estimate is that a baby born now would usually stay in the NICU until their official due date.

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