Teratogens are chemicals that, when exposed to a pregnant woman, can cause physical or functional abnormalities in the human embryo or fetus. The three main types of teratogens are organic compounds, heavy metals, and radiation. Organic compounds include pesticides, dioxins, and alcohol. Heavy metals include lead, mercury, arsenic, and uranium. Radiation includes exposure to sunlight, X-rays, and medical procedures such as amniocentesis and abortion. Many other substances are known to be toxic to humans; however, they do not meet the definition of a teratogen because no evidence has been found to show that they can affect the developing embryo or fetus.
Women of childbearing age should avoid exposure to any chemical or agent that can harm the developing fetus. This includes drugs, certain foods, and environmental contaminants. Scientists believe that approximately half of all birth defects are caused by factors outside the control of the pregnant woman. These may include genetics, obesity, diabetes, stress, alcohol use, smoking, and inadequate nutrition. The others are due to unknown causes.
It is important for women who want to become pregnant to avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause birth defects.
Teratogens are drugs or other circumstances that can result in congenital malformations, generally known as birth defects. These anomalies usually appear between the third and eighth weeks of pregnancy, when the major organ systems are developing. Because of this, the organs are more vulnerable to damage caused by certain drugs, foods, and other factors.
It is not just any drug that can cause problems for an unborn baby, but instead only those that are called "teratogenic" compounds. These are substances that can cause serious physical abnormalities or death in babies. Doctors don't know exactly why some drugs are teratogenic while others that do the same thing aren't, but they assume it is because of how they affect fetal development. The problem with this assumption is that not all babies are born at exactly the same stage of development, so a single dose of a teratogenic medication could have different effects on two different infants.
The most common type of birth defect is something called a neural tube defect (NTD). These are problems with the formation of the brain and spinal cord during early pregnancy. They can be identified by specific symptoms including paralysis, lack of muscle control, poor vision, hearing loss, and sometimes death.
Teratogens are drugs that can cause birth abnormalities. Teratogens are substances that disrupt the normal development of a fetus. The word "teratogen" comes from the Greek words τέρας, meaning "monster," and γύνοιός, meaning "birth." Drugs can be teratogenic if they cause serious problems during pregnancy or if they affect fetal growth. Problems that may arise due to exposure to a drug during pregnancy include mental retardation, deafness, blindness, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and difficulty breathing.
Drugs can be divided into four groups based on their effects on the developing fetus: abortifacients, antimetabolites, hormones, and immunosuppressants. Abortifacients are drugs that cause miscarriage when used regularly during pregnancy. Antimetabolites are drugs that stop cell division for growing tissues such as bones or muscles. Hormones are chemicals that control the activity of other cells or organs. Immunosuppressants prevent the body's immune system from fighting off infections. Most drugs do not fall under one category; therefore, they may have various effects on the fetus. The effect each drug has on the fetus depends on how it is used during pregnancy and what kind of medication it is.
This set contains the following terms: (20) Teratogens are chemicals that injure or cause birth abnormalities in fetuses or embryos. Many substances can be teratogenic, including foods such as chocolate and alcohol; drugs such as nicotine and aspirin; and environmental factors such as malnutrition and infection. The word "teratogen" comes from a Greek word meaning "monster-producing." Although most known teratogens affect only humans or animals, a few have been found to be harmful to plants as well.
Teratogens can cause physical changes or abnormalities in an embryo or fetus. For example, alcohol is known to damage brain cells and cause mental retardation in children born to pregnant women who drink alcohol. Other common physical defects include heart disease, diabetes, and problems with arms, legs, and organs other than the brain and spinal cord. A few teratogens can be very dangerous. For example, thalidomide was used to treat nausea during pregnancy but caused serious deformities if it were taken by the mother after she gave birth. Scientists still do not know exactly how many people suffer birth defects because of a teratogen, but it is estimated to be about 10% of all pregnancies.
Some substances can cause genetic mutations leading to cancer. Others cause immune system disorders, blindness, or neurological problems.
The following information should assist you in distinguishing between what is likely true and what is most likely fiction. Teratogens are substances that can cause birth abnormalities. Exposure to them does not inherently endanger your fetus. The degree and duration of exposure, as well as the stage of the pregnancy at the time of exposure, can all have a role. For example, smoking during pregnancy is known to be harmful to the developing baby. Drugs, alcohol, and radiation are other examples of environmental factors that can cause birth defects.
Toxins can be chemicals found in pesticides or pollutants that can enter our water supply. These toxins can pass into the milk that we feed our babies through the food we eat or via the water we drink. However, like drugs, alcohol, and radiation, toxins do not necessarily pose a risk to the fetus unless it is ingested by the mother. Eating contaminated food is one way that mothers can become sick; however, eating well with proper nutrition is the best protection against toxic exposures.
There are many things on which to base a diagnosis of birth defect. A doctor will take into account a number of factors when making this determination. Included in these considerations will be how far along you are in your pregnancy, any symptoms you may be experiencing, and any past history of miscarriages or stillbirths. A doctor may also perform a complete physical examination of you before making any assumptions.