Teratogens are not the best news for young mothers. They can lead to drastic congenital disabilities in your baby. As a result, it is important for young mothers to know more about them and how to avoid them. Scroll down to read more.  

What Are Teratogens 

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey. It is the power of creation itself. It is one of the most important things that drives human civilization forward. However, pregnancy is not a rose-laden pathway. It is a tough and long road filled with several challenges. One such challenge is teratology or teratogens. 

Medically speaking, teratogens are elements that can result in prenatal defects. Exposure to teratogens at a young age leads to a myriad of mental as well as physical defects. Teratogens can affect your baby as early as 10 or 14 days old. Therefore, having a clear idea about teratogens is very important. 

As per medical records, teratogens start interacting at around the third or fourth week of the gestation period. The worst part about teratogens is that they remain undetectable unless you are engaging in behavioral teratogenic behavior.  

Examples Of Teratogens  

Medical science has progressed a lot in recent years. However, medical practitioners seem to be at an impasse when it comes to the true nature of teratogens. The earliest teratology tests tried studying the phenomenon across animals. As a result, scientists researched small rodents and animals. However, these tests needed to be revised. 

Fast forward a few years, and scientists finally had the chance to study teratology on humans. This helped scientists to truly understand the nature of the phenomenon. Here are some of the most prominent teratogens that you need to shield your babies from.  

Recreational Drugs 

Recreational drugs are not the worst. They are certainly good fun. However, pregnancy changes everything. I am telling you what is right for you. However, it would help if you stayed away from recreational drugs when you are pregnant.  

Alcohol has the potential to interfere with your baby’s (fetus) central nervous system. Studies show that alcohol has the power to mutate certain aspects of fetal growth. This is called fetal alcohol syndrome and can cause facial and physical deformities like a small head, underdeveloped limbs, etc.  

On the other hand, cigarettes interfere with your baby’s overall growth. Some of the most prominent cigarette growth issues include premature birth, miscarriage, failing pulmonary functions, underdeveloped brain, and stunted growth.  

Finally, the usage of substances like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc can also have concerning effects on your baby. One of the most prominent effects of recreational drug abuse in pregnancy is neonatal abstinence. This is when a baby goes through withdrawal syndrome after birth. This is a rare teratogen effect that only affects 5% of the population. 

Medications 

Over-the-counter medicines work. They do not require a prescription, they are cheap, and they can be bought under the radar. However, you might want to reconsider once you are pregnant.  

Over-the-counter medications are said to be one of the leading causes of prenatal deformities in children. Most OTC medicines are made using questionable materials and methods because they do not have to pass any regulations.  

In fact, research was conducted to study the composition of different OTC medications. Researchers found traces of microplastic, heavy metals, and other pollutants in these medicines. In fact, this trend was noticed across test subjects.  

Some of the most teratogenic medications include: 

  • Hormonal medication 
  • Vitamin A supplements 
  • Antithyroid medications 
  • Blood thinners or anticoagulants 
  • Antimicrobials 
  • Antiepileptic drugs or AEDs 

Hence, do not gravitate towards OTC medicines for the sake of your baby. Only go for prescribed medication sourced from an established supplier.  

Infection & Viruses 

The definition of the term teratogens is not an easy one. In fact, the list is getting longer by the minute. Earlier, synthetic chemicals and substances were thought to be primary teratogens.  

However, the aforementioned notions changed over time. Nowadays, doctors have gone out of their way to identify some organic teratogens. These organic teratogens include viruses and bacteria.  

Here are some of the most prominent organic teratogens that you need to know about: 

  • Toxoplasmosis 
  • Listeria 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections 
  • Rubella 
  • Herpes Simplex 
  • Syphilis 
  • HIV 
  • Fifth disease 
  • Hepatitis B, C, and other variants 

Pollution 

With time, science is expanding its definition of teratogens. In fact, the debilitating environmental conditions are expanding this definition. Certain congenital abnormalities are caused due to pollutants like heavy metals, microplastics, etc. 

Some of the most common congenital defects due to pollution include Spina Bifida, neurological debilitation, cleft palate, etc. Here are some of the most common environmental causes include: 

  • High carbon content in the air 
  • Prolonged exposure to radiation 
  • Unchecked rise in temperature 
  • Microplastic particles in the air 

In my opinion, pollution is one of the most dangerous teratogens in existence. As teratogen levels are rising, mothers are becoming more and more susceptible to this. The worst part is that there is no way to combat this. There is only prevention.  

General Health Condition 

A mother’s general health also needs to be factored in while studying teratology. Some chronic illnesses might result in congenital defects. These defects are not hereditary. Instead, these defects are caused due to the overall health of the host body. 

Some of the most prominent chronic illnesses that result in teratogenic defects include diabetes, autoimmune disease, arthritis, lupus, thyroid, etc. However, this statement must not be taken as an ultimatum.  

There is no scientific proof that the aforementioned diseases would certainly result in congenital defects in your baby. These diseases simply increase the chance of developing such diseases. Therefore, you must not panic.  

Teratogens Exposure Risk Timeframe 

Exposure to teratogens exposure starts quite early. Scientists believe that a fetus can be affected by teratogens as early as 1 week after conception. However, you do not panic.  

As per the latest reports, teratogens can affect a fetus for the first eight weeks of conception. In fact, doctors suggest that a mother needs to be extra careful from the fifth week to the eighth week. This is primarily because a fetus stays in the developing stage for the first eight weeks. As a result, it is easy for teratogens to interfere with this process.  

Hence, it is very important for mothers to stay in touch with their OBGYN during the first few weeks of pregnancy.  

Precautions Against Teratogens 

The current environmental situation has made it difficult for mothers to avoid teratogens. However, they can certainly try their best to curb the exposure. Then again, this is not a simple task. Avoiding teratogens is one of the most important aspects of pregnancy. Therefore, to make things easier for young mothers, here is a simple cheat sheet to avoid teratogens during pregnancy:  

  • Keep an open channel of conversation with your OBGYN. 
  • Avoid indulging in recreational usage of drugs and psychoactive substances. 
  • Do not take supplements or medications without a prior second opinion from your doctor. 
  • Make your husband clean the litter box. 
  • Do not go into heated pools, saunas, spas, etc. They rapidly change your temperature.  
  • Try to incorporate organic food into your diet. 
  • Stay away from AC vents or any other variants of exhausts. These emit harmful materials like heavy metals and microplastics.  

The Closing Thought 

And there you have it. You have reached the very end of my article about Teratogens and their implications on your baby’s health. Even though teratogens are bad news for your baby, they can be avoided if you keep a level head. Keep following our page for more such content.  

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samik ghoshal
Samik has been a literature student all along and uses his fluidity to write about multi-niche topics. Aspiring to be a professional writer, he tries to analyze his topic from a critical standpoint but still adds a hint of personal perspective to the end product. Being a person having a general inclination toward global politics and documentary filmmaking, he also wishes to write and document more about numerous conflicts that are brewing in the different corners of the globe.

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