Fetal Circulation – The Secret’s in the Lungs

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 | 0 comments

I’m starting a new series about babies called Woven Together because the development of a little person is fascinating. For the most part, this series will deviate from the main content of the blog – how things go wrong – to tell how things go right. I hope you enjoy!

Babies in the womb have to make some adjustments to account for the fact that they’re in the womb: there’s no air to breathe and no food to eat. Today, we’re going to learn how their adjusted circulatory system works.

First off, mother and baby don’t share blood. They have two completely separate circulatory systems.1 Baby’s heart starts beating about 22 days after conception so that he can pump his blood to deliver nutrients to all the parts of his rapidly-growing body. The heart is baby’s first organ to

  1. That’s how mother and baby can have two separate blood types with relatively few problems. []
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Sickle Cell – The Power of the Little Guy

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 | 1 comment

Today, we’ll be learning about sickle cell anemia.  
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor – just a bioengineer who happens to find pathophysiology fascinating.  If you find an error, please let me know!  Als0, NONE of my drawings are to scale.

Sickle cell anemia is the ultimate morality tale about the importance of the little guy: in the 3 billion letters that make up your genome, one letter determines if you’re healthy or sick.  Inheriting the wrong gene for hemoglobin can cause extremely painful episodes, recurring infections, and even death.  Let’s see how it happens.

It all starts with what scientists like to call the Central Dogma of Biology.  It says that information comes from your DNA, gets translated into amino acids, which get strung together to form proteins.  DNA is the instructions, amino acids are like LEGOs, and the proteins are like the resulting LEGO dinosaur.

The central dogma of biology: DNA provides the instructions for the order of amino acids (LEGOs), which fold to create a protein (or dinosaur).

The central dogma of biology: DNA provides the instructions for the order of amino acids (LEGOs), which fold to create a protein (or dinosaur).

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