Physical Development


Physical Development

Growth- a change in size or weight.

Development- acuiring new skills and capabilities. 

Developmenta norms- used to access whether infants, toddlers, children and/or adolescents are developing cognitive, communication, motor, socioemotional and adaptive skills at approximately the same rate as their peers. 

Developmental milestones- an expected skill for someone to do at a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move. 

Life course- a distinct phase that we go through in life.

Maturation- the action or process of getting older mentally and physically.

Life expectancy- the average period of time that a person is expected to live to. 

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Measuring Physical Development

New Born

  • Head Circumference 
  • Height 
  • Weight 

Children and Adults

  • Waist 
  • Foot Size
  • Bust/ Chest 
  • Hips 
  • Leg and Arm span 

We measure humans to ensure they are developing as they should be.

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Conception- the fertilisation of an egg by a sperm, resulting in the formation of a zygote. 

The head splits off when it reaches the egg, the head contains the DNA. 

Delayed development- delayed development happens when a foetus has not shown development within the expected time range.

Arrested development- the term arrested development means development that has stopped. 

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Factors that can cause Arrested or Delayed develop

  • Disease- HIV, Zika virus (deformed head)
  • Medication/Drugs
  • Genetic conditions
  • STI- Chlamydia 
  • Stress
  • Smoking/Drinking- alcohol foetul syndrome
  • Abuse- physical trauma 
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Foetal Development

Week 1-4

The women is considered 3 weeks pregnant as its approximately 3 weeks since her last period. At 4 weeks the zygote becomes an embryo. 

Week 5-8

The baby's brain&spinal cord start to form, blood circulation will begin and the heart will develop quickly. at 6-7 weeks the embyro becomes a foetus, eyes and ears are beginning to take shape, the heart begins to beat and can be heard on an ultrasound, the face, hands, feet and organs are forming.

Week 9-13

All the organs and structures have formed, the baby is moving but it can't be felt.

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Foetal Development 2

Week 13-20

Head and body are proportional, hair, eyelashes an eyebrows begin to grow. 

Week 21-24

Baby is covered in fine hair called lanugo- could be to keep the baby warm, the baby can be felt when moving.

Week 25-26

Baby moves vigorously and responds to touch and sound, at 26 weeks- the baby's eyelids open for the first time. 

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Foetal Development 3

Week 27-29

The baby's heartbeat can be heard through a stethoscope, the baby is covered in a white greasy substance called vernix. 

Week 30-31

The baby is plump and smooth- vernix and lanugo begin to disappear. 

Week 32

Baby moves downwards to prepare for birth. 

Week 33-40

Head moves down into the pelvis- 'engaged'.

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Adolescence- an important status change following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult. 

Puberty- a period of rapid growth during which young people reach sexual maturity, and become biologically able to reproduce and secondary sexual characteristics develop.

Females- Usually between 11-13 years.

Males- Usually between 13-15 years. 

Hormone- glands secrete hormones, it's a chemical substance which goes into the blood, targets a particular organ/gland, which has a receptor for the hormone.

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Primary Sexual Characteristics (present at birth&d


  • The uterus enlarges, and the vagina lengthens.
  • The ovaries begin to release eggs. 
  • The menstrual cycle commences. 


  • Enlargement of the penis and testes.
  • Spontaneous erections caused by blood flowing into chambers in the penis. 
  • The testicles begin to produce spermatozoa, beginning of ***********.
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Secondary Sexual Characteristics (develop during p


  • Breasts develop and the areola swells and darkens.
  • Hair grows in armpitsand pubic area.
  • Redistribution of body fat, causing the hips to widen. 


  • Changes in the larynx, causing the voice to deepen. 
  • Hair grows in the armpits, pubic area and facial area. 
  • Redistribution of muscle tissue and fat.
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Early Adulthood (19-45 years)

  • Young adults are at their peak physical performance between 19-28 years.
  • Reached full height and strength. 
  • Reaction time and manual dexterity is also at its peak. 
  • After this age, adults may notice a gradual change in speed and strength.

Progesterone- helps the uterus lining to thicken, high levels of progesterone so that the baby stays where its meant to. 

Oestrogen- can make you feel sick.

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  • When a women is in her forties, her ovaries gradually begin to make less oestrogen- this stops the production of eggs.
  • This is referred to as the perimenopause transition.
  • This lasts until menopause which is the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs.
  • Perimenopause lasts on average 4 years. 
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Perimenopause Symptoms

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Loss of libdo (low sex drive)
  • Fatigue 
  • Irregular/Heavy periods
  • Vaginal dryness- discomfort during sex
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Urine leakage when coughing/sneezing
  • Urinal urgancy 
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Middle Adulthood- 46-65 years

  • Fertility is at it's highest during late teens-early twenties. 
  • Risk of miscarriage and pregancy complications rises with age.
  • At 45-55 years fertility reduces and comes to an end in a process called menopause, which involves;
  • A gradual ending of menstruation and reduces fertile eggs.
  • Increase in the production of gonadotrophins (hot flushes, irritability).
  • Reduction in sex hormones, which can shrink sexual organs.
  • Associated problems such as osteoporosis, caused by a reduction in sex hormones. 
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Menopause Symptoms

  • Grey hair.
  • Skin elasticity.
  • Infertility.
  • Thinning of hair and hair loss.
  • Loss of muscle tone and strength.
  • High risk of misscariage and still birth.
  • Ovaries stop producing eggs.
  • Weight gaining.
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Later Adulthood- 65+ years

Life expectancy- an estimate of the number of years, on average, that a person can expect to live. 

  • The heart becomes more susceptible to disease.
  • Individulas can lose height- this is caused by posture and compression of the spinal discs and joints. 
  • Loss of strength and muscle loss, as well as reduction in stamina.
  • Mobility (gross motor) and dexterity (fine motor) become difficult. 
  • Changes in the brain include loss of or shrinkage of nerve cells whcih can cause a slowing of response. 
  • Visual and hearing problems.
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Deterioration of Intellectual Abilities

Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are more common in older people. 

Mild cognitive impairment can be an early sign of a disease. 

Ageing can cause a loss of nerve cells in the brain which reduces the ability of the nerves to transmit electrical signals. 

However, people don't lose logic or the ability to draw on the wealth of experience.

Older people do say that their body is slower and that they forget things, but this is a part of the ageing process, so doesn't always mean that they are getting a disease. 

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