New York State Chemistry RegentsNew York State Earth Science Regents

Living Environment Regents June 2006 Question 58 PDF Print E-mail
Reproduction and Development


Structure A is the placenta. The placenta's primary role is to ensure that oxygen is moved into the fetus' blood stream and carbon dioxide is carried away from the fetus - however the waste is not limited to oxygen and also includes cleaning out other waste which is produced by the fetus. In the same way that it ensures oxygen reaches the fetus, it also plays a role in ensuring that some nutrients are received.

The placenta is an extremely complex piece of biological equipment. It is a little bit like an artificial kidney, it allows the mother's blood and the fetus' to come into very close contact - but without ever mixing. This enables your blood to pass across nutrients and oxygen to the baby, and waste products like carbon dioxide to go back from fetus to mother. It acts as the lung, kidney and digestive system for the fetus.

The placenta also plays an important role in hormone production. Human chronic gonadotropin, or hCG is produced by the placenta. This hormone can be found in the fetus' blood stream as early as 10 days of pregnancy. This is of course not the only hormone which the placenta produces as it is also responsible for the production of estrogen and progesterone.


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