Drug Use and Prenatal Development Essay

781 Words4 Pages
Much progress has been made over the past decades in the development of in vitro techniques for the assessment of chemically induced effects in embryonic and fetal development. In vitro assays have originally been developed to provide information on the mechanism of action of normal development, and have hence more adequately been used in fundamental research. These assays had to undergo extensive modification to be used in developmental toxicity testing. The present paper focuses on the rat whole embryo culture system, but also reviews modifications that were undertaken for the in vitro chick embryo system and the aggregate cultures of fetal rat brain cells. Today these tests cannot replace the existing in vivo developmental toxicity tests. They can, however, be used to screen chemicals for further development or further testing. In addition, these in vitro tests provide valuable information on the mechanisms of developmental toxicity and help to understand the relevancy of findings for humans. In vitro systems, combined with selected in vivo testing and pharmacokinetic investigations in animals and humans, can thus provide essential information for human risk assessment. Prenatal drug abuse is a very tragic, yet preventable issue in our society. For a pregnant woman, drug abuse is doubly dangerous. Drugs may harm her own health, interfering with her ability to support the pregnancy. Also, some drugs can directly impair prenatal development. All illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, pose dangers to a pregnant woman. Legal substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, are also dangerous, and even medical drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, can be harmful. For her own health and the health of the child, a woman should avoid all of them as much as possible from the time she first plans to become pregnant or learns that she is pregnant. A mother who uses
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