April 14, 2010
Environmental Sources of Birth Defects
Environmental agents that can cause deviations in normal development and can lead to serious abnormalities or death are called teratogens. It is usually something in the environment that the mother may be exposed to during her pregnancy. It could be a prescribed medication, a street drug, alcohol use, or a disease present in the mother which could increase the chance for the baby to be born with a birth defect. In this paper I will be exploring different types of teratogens, and their effects on the fetus.
There are many different factors surrounding the threat of certain teratogens and the time of exposure. Depending on an organisms developmental stage at the time of exposure the organisms susceptibility could be higher or lower. The most dangerous time for teratogenic exposure is during the first two weeks of pregnancy, many women are not even aware that they are pregnant, teratogenic exposure may destroy the organism at this time. Also each body system, or limb is most vulnerable at its initial time of growth spurt . Susceptibility to teratogens depends also on the mothers nutritional and physiological state. Teratogenic effects become intensified if the mother is unhealthy.
One of the biggest environmental sources of birth defects is prescription or illegal drugs.
Marijuana. Marijuana crosses the placenta to your baby. Marijuana, like cigarette smoke, contains toxins that keep your baby from getting the proper supply of oxygen that he or she needs to grow. Studies of marijuana in pregnancy are inconclusive because many women who smoke marijuana also use tobacco and alcohol. Smoking marijuana increases the levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the blood, which reduces the oxygen supply to the baby. Smoking marijuana during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth-weight,