What is the function of the fetal membranes?

The fetal membranes surround the mammalian embryos. They protect the fetus, among others against mechanical injuries. What are the layers and what is their role?

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1. What are fetal membranes?

Fetal membranes (Latin membranae fetales) are the structures that surround the developing fetus in the womb.

They consist of:

  • Amniotic - forms the cavity immediately surrounding the embryo. Inside, there are amniotic waters that allow the baby to move freely. They also soften shocks. The amnion is formed from the ectoderm and mesoderm (as does the later nervous system of the baby, its sense organs and urinary organs). It is quite thin and transparent, but also very durable.
  • Omoczni - accumulates waste products of the fetus until the child's bladder develops. Like the amnion, it is formed from the ectoderm and mesoderm.
  • Chorionic villi - the fetal membrane that adheres to the uterus, fuses with it and forms the placenta. The chorion is smooth (on the side of the child) and hairy (on the side of the uterine mucosa). The chorion is very supplied with blood and plays a fundamental role in the maintenance of pregnancy. From the moment of fertilization, it produces chorionic gonadotropin.

The amniotic, allantoic, and chorionic villus together form the fetal bladder. Figuratively speaking, it is an airtight bag filled with amniotic fluid in which the baby develops (its quantity increases with the age of pregnancy).

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2. Functions of the membranes

The functions of the fetal membranes are:

  • protection of the child against injuries and harmful effects of external factors;
  • shock absorption;
  • storage of unnecessary metabolic products;
  • providing the baby with a constant temperature;
  • protection of the fetus from noise;
  • preventing vaginal bacteria from entering your baby;
  • participation in the formation of the placenta.

3. Fetal membranes - the most common complications

The most common complications associated with the membranes are detachment of the chorion and inflammation of the membranes.

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3.1. Chorionic villus detachment

The chorion until 12-16. week of pregnancy acts as the placenta. So it is essential for a child to develop properly. Sometimes, however, the chorion separates from the uterine wall, which is a real danger to the life of the fetus.

In many cases, this situation is caused by the sub-chilli hematoma located between the uterine wall and the fetal egg. Its presence does not mean a loss of pregnancy, but requires urgent medical consultation and is often associated with a hospital stay.

Symptoms that may suggest chorion detachment include bleeding (initially sparse, then intense) and abdominal pain.

3.2. Inflammation of the membranes

It is the inflammation that affects the chorion and the amnion most often caused by bacteria. They damage the membranes of the membranes and can lead to serious complications. In extreme cases, the fetus dies.

Risk factors for inflammation of the membranes include: premature labor, breakage of amniotic fluid, group B streptococcal infection, prolonged labor, bacterial infections in the mother (e.g. cystitis) and meconium contamination of the amniotic fluid.

The oozing of amniotic waters long before the termination of pregnancy also requires urgent consultation with a doctor.

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