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At the end of the third week, intraembryonic mesoderm on each side of the midline differentiates into a paraxial portion, an intermediate portion, and a lateral plate (Fig. 10.1 A). When intercellular clefts appear in the lateral mesoderm, the plates are divided into two layers: the somatic mesoderm layer and the splanchnic mesoderm layer. The latter is continuous with mesoderm of the wall of the yolk sac (Fig. 10.1 B). The space bordered by these layers forms the intraembryonic cavity (body cavity). At first the right and left sides of the intraembryonic cavity are in open connection with the extraembryonic cavity, but when the body of the embryo folds cephalocaudally and laterally, this connection is lost (Figs. 10.2, A-E). In this manner a large intraembryonic cavity extending from the thoracic to the pelvic region forms.
Ventral body wall defects in the thorax or abdomen may involve the heart, abdominal viscera, and urogenital organs. They may be due to a failure of body folding, in which case one or more of the four folds
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