Circulatory System - Developmental Changes
We have learnt that throughout foetal life, gas exchange takes place, only through the placenta and not through lungs. Therefore, the foetus has various features in its circulatory systems that are not present in an adult. Diagram is a diagrammatic representation of foetal and infant circulation. In the foetus the oxygenated blood flowing back through the umbilical vein mainly bypasses the liver and goes to the right atrium.
Figure: Changes After Birth in Circulatory System
The blood then passes to the left atrium directly by an opening called foramen ovale. From the left atrium the blood flows to the left ventricle that sends the blood to the head and rest of the body. Blood returning from the head moves by the right atrium to the right ventricle which then does not pump the blood to the lungs but to a shunting vessel the ductus arteriosus that connects along with the descending aorta. A pair of umbilical arteries branch off from the aorta and carry deoxygenated blood to the placenta. At birth the umbilical artery and vein collapse while the cord is tied or the placenta separates, the result of it (here is negative pressure in the right atrium and blood flows back from the left atrium to the right. The flow causes the one way valve to close in the foramen ovale. Thus the left and right atria are separated. The shunting vessels which bypassed the liver and the lungs also collapse and adult pattern of circulation starts. The entire process takes place within a few hours of birth, though the permanent closure of foramen ovale may take up to a year.