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Lecture 3

PSY210H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Teratology

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Elizabeth Johnson

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PSY210H5 – Introduction to Developmental Psychology
Lecture 3 – January 21, 2014
Phases of Development
-Zygotic (in first trimester)
-Embryonic (begins first, ends second trimester)
-Fetal (begins second trimester, ends at birth)
-New born phase (postnatal period following birth)
II. Hereditary-Environmental Interactions
-Debate in human development:
oRole of heredity and maturational factors vs. Role of learning and experience
oAfter 1926, Watson behaviourists flourish
oContemporary psychologists see interaction of both in development – genes help shape environment
and environments influence genes
Range of Reaction
-How the environment influences genetic expression
-Range of Reaction: heredity does not rigidly fix behaviour but instead establishes a range of possible
developmental outcomes that may occur in response to different environments.
-Figure 2-7:
oLooking at the range of scores you can have in a restricted environment vs. enriched environment,
you will see in general that enriched environments have better test scores
oBut you can see that the purple child has a lower range in comparison to blue and red
oBut if you look at scores achieved, for example, for the red child (the highest range) with the
restricted and enriched environment, you can take the child with less potential and put them in an
enriched environment, they can perform as well as those who are in enriched environments
o(Children vary in their potentials for achievement scores, but an enriched environment can help to
improve those potentials)
Environmental Risks
-Teratogens (e.g. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome): environmental agent, such as drug, medication, dietary imbalance,
or polluting substance, that may cause developmental deviations in the growing human organism; most
threatening in embryonic stage (p.86)
oThis is important as during the embryonic stage, women don’t even know they are pregnant
oThe impact of teratogens is most severe during this period
oCan be anything from food, alcohol, cigarettes; damage the developing organism
-Principles involved in Teratogen Effects
oTeratogen effects are exerted mostly during critical periods
oEach different teratogen exerts different effects
oMaternal or fetal genotypes interacts with effects and may counteract
oOne effects can intensify effects of others
oSome may have no effect on mothers (but worse effects on the fetus)
oThe longer the exposure, the worse the effect is
-Teratogens and Timing of Their Effect on Prenatal Development
oMost serious damage from teratogens in first 2-8 weeks
oIn general, you get structural defects with early exposure, and functional defects in later exposure to
oExample: if exposed in week 9, you wont be susceptible to structural defects in the nervous system,
but you are vulnerable to functional defects in the CNS
-Environmental Dangers – Illegal Drugs
oHeroin, cocaine, and other drugs
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PSY210H5 – Introduction to Developmental Psychology
Lecture 3 – January 21, 2014
Withdrawal symptoms in newborns
Birth defects
-Legal Drugs
Leads to low birth weight
Increases risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Lower IQ scores, poor school performance, higher risk for dependency problems later in
Premature Birth
-Preterm infant: born prior to 38 weeks after conception
oWeight is appropriate for time in gestation
-Number and severity of problems increase as birth weight and age-at-birth decreases
-Children born very low in birth weight have more learning problems
oLower levels of achievement in reading and math than moderately low-birth weight children
-Premature and Low Birth Weight babies
oStimulation programs including massages help offset negative outcomes
oParental contact important for both infants and parents
oLong-term effects are dependent on SES and other environmental factors
Child’s responsiveness, mothers competence, family stresses, family and community
-Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
oResult of heavy alcohol use during pregnancy
oLower IQ scores, poor school performance, high risk for dependency problems later in life
-Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
oNot the same as full blown FAS (not as severe)
oSymptoms can range in type and severity
oOften times no facial cues to FASD
oFASD causes irreversible permanent brain damage
o50% pregnancies are unplanned, and 50% of women in modern western society drink (1 in 4)
oSeverity of symptoms, as well as range of symptoms, vary widely between FASD sufferers (some
very sensitive to lights and sounds, some not)
oDifficult to predict risk, so advice is for a woman to stop drinking before she conceives
-Additional Risk Factors (in addition to exposure from teratogens)
oParental age
Fertility difficulty increases with age (risk over 40 is HIGH)
Miscarriage and chromosomal damage risks increase with age
Older fathers contribute to poor outcomes
Teen moms at greatest risk
oAge is also a risk factor for multiple births
Multiple births more likely to be premature
Not just due to fertility drugs
oChildren and low birth weight babies
Remember, children born very low in birth weight have more learning problems
Lower levels of achievement in reading and math than moderately low-birth weight
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