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Assignment Questions

Essays About Pregnancy and Stem Cells

2 essays to be written.

Reproduction and Development:
Essay #1 (50 points)

Zoey arrived at the hospital in labor with contractions only a few minutes apart. She was
a little nervous, but was coping well with the discomfort of the contractions. From the start, she
had prepared as best as she could for pregnancy and labor. Zoey had talked with her doctor
before even becoming pregnant and had made adjustments to try to create a healthy environment
for her baby. She took special vitamin supplements, ate a healthy assortment of foods, and stayed
away from alcohol and cigarettes. While Zoey maintained those good habits throughout her
pregnancy, she remembered her doctor said those steps were especially important during her first
trimester, as that was a critical time of development for her baby.
Now that the time to have her baby had arrived, Zoey was very happy she had done
everything she could to keep her baby healthy. It was only a matter of time before her baby
would be in her arms! Unfortunately, although her baby seemed to be handling labor quite well,
the doctor found that Zoey was not progressing as she had hoped. Zoey had been laboring for
many hours but did not appear to be getting any closer to delivering her baby. The doctor
decided to give her a drug called Pitocin. She explained that Pitocin is a synthetic form of the
hormone oxytocin, and it could help her labor move forward more quickly. Thankfully, the
Pitocin was helpful in Zoey’s case, and her labor progressed rapidly after the drug was
administered. Soon, she felt a gush of water, and the doctor found that she was ready to deliver.
Now Zoey pushed with her contractions and, after another hour, the doctor delivered a healthy
boy. Though exhausted, Zoey was in awe that she could finally hold her baby.

1. Why did Zoey’s doctor warn her to be especially careful about eating well and avoiding
alcohol in her first trimester? From a physiological perspective, what is so important about that
time period?
2. Explain why giving Pitocin to Zoey helped to speed up her labor.
3. What membrane broke when Zoey felt a gush of water, and how did that membrane form?

Essay #2: (50 points)
Many scientists think that fetal tissue transplants offer great potential for treating Parkinson’s
disease, epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injuries. Why might tissues
from a fetus be particularly useful for replacing diseased or damaged cells in patients with such
conditions? Some people would allow only tissues from miscarriages to be used in fetal
transplant research. However, most researchers prefer to use tissues from surgically aborted
fetuses. Why? Explain your position on the controversial issue.
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