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The Placenta: A Maternofetal Interface.

The placenta is the gatekeeper between the mother and the fetus. Over the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus is nourished by uterine gland secretions in a process known as histiotrophic nutrition. During the second trimester of pregnancy, placentation has evolved to the point at which nutrients are delivered to the placenta via maternal blood (hemotrophic nutrition). Over gestation, the placenta must adapt to these variable nutrient supplies, to alterations in maternal physiology and blood flow, and to dynamic changes in fetal growth rates. Numerous questions remain about the mechanisms used to transport nutrients to the fetus and the maternal and fetal determinants of this process. Growing data highlight the ability of the placenta to regulate this process. As new technologies and omics approaches are utilized to study this maternofetal interface, greater insight into this unique organ and its impact on fetal development and long-term health has been obtained.

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