Fetal tissue development and growth occupy most of the prenatal period, although most of the increase in fetal body weight occurs during the last trimester of gestation. Fetal tissues grow by cellular hyperplasia and hypertrophy, and cell differentiation within tissues and organs enables distinct functional requirements of those tissues to be achieved. Fetal tissue growth is orchestrated by complex interactions among genetic and environmental factors that not only determine the viability of the offspring at birth, but also influence the growth and functional characteristics of the postnatal animal.

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