Factors Influencing Growth & Development

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  • 0:03 Growth & Development
  • 0:44 Hereditary
  • 2:14 Environmental
  • 3:31 Nutritional
  • 4:19 Lifestyle
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

There are numerous factors that play various roles in our growth and development. This lesson looks at the main categories of factors and specific examples of their impact on growth and development.

Growth & Development

You are a proud parent of baby Ashley. As you are getting used to changes in life now that Ashley is home, you begin thinking about how Ashley will grow and develop from this point into a young lady. You know that growth is getting bigger in size and development is the process of advancing thinking and physical attributes.

There is a picture in your mind of what Ashley will look like and how she will think and act. You want to be sure that you give her the best chance to grow and develop into the young lady in your mind. Several factors will influence her growth and development. Some factors have already been determined, while other factors will continue to play a role throughout her developmental years.


As her parents, you two give Ashley the first factor that influences her growth and development from the time she was conceived. Each of you gave genes that carry information for how Ashley should grow and develop.

Genes determine many of the physical and some of the behavioral developments that will occur throughout her life. Things such as height, weight, facial features, hip and breast size, intelligence, and eye and hair color are all heavily influenced by your genes.

Two X chromosomes determined that Ashley would be a girl. This influenced her female body characteristics from birth and will influence the development of sexual reproduction characteristics during puberty. She will also begin that development earlier in life as a girl than if she had been a boy. The other differences that would occur if Ashley were a boy are boy body structures, increased body size, and slower onset of development.

The genes you gave her also influence her race, which also influences her growth and development. Generally, different races tend to vary in size and sexual body characteristics. However, there are exceptions to this rule and we'll get to those a little later. Traditionally, Asians tend to have smaller body stature and structure, Europeans tend to be taller, and Africans tend to be taller and have larger sexual body characteristics, including hips. Ashley's race is also responsible for determining her skin color, and the color of her eyes and hair will be determined based on colors that occur within her race.


You recall hearing about the age-old debate over nature vs. nurture. In other words, is growth and development determined by our genes only, or by our environment only, or by both? Over time, we have learned that the answer is, in fact, both. Everything that you put in Ashley's genes will manifest themselves depending on the environmental factors present in her life.

You probably only think about environment as being the things that are surrounding Ashley since birth. Well, her environment also includes her internal body environment and the environment inside of the uterus before her birth. Hormones affect both. They are chemical messengers that make the body start or stop doing something. The presence of certain hormones in her mom, like cortisol and insulin, played a key role in Ashley's birthweight and growth. The amount of hormones, like growth hormone, help to determine how big and fast Ashley will grow.

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