Teratogens & Their Effects On Pregnancy

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Lesson 2 Essay During your pregnancy there are many hazardous agents that should be avoided at all costs in order to prevent birth defects and disorders. These agents are known as teratogens and can have a negative impact on your unborn child. Teratogens can include prescription and nonprescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, environmental pollution, illegal drugs, infectious diseases and radiation. Illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and methadone, can cause very serious and permanent physical and mental defects. Illicit use of these drugs can lead to low birth weight, breathing difficulties, death, and of course the possibility of the baby being born addicted to the drug. Drug addictions in infants present themselves as irritability, fevers, and piercing cries. More specifically, cocaine use during pregnancy can cause physical deformities in the child’s eyes, bones, genitals, urinary tract, kidneys and heart and acute growth retardation. They may also experience seizures and hemorrhages. While many people believe that marijuana may not be as harmful as these other drugs, it can still affect the infant in a few ways. The baby can have physical problems; for example low birth weight and/or a small head. Developmentally, the child may experience difficulty with memory or attention, depression, and/or inadequate problem-solving skills (Berk, 2008, p. 67). Tobacco and alcohol are two of the most common and harmful teratogens which affect an unborn baby’s growth. Extensive alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to a very detrimental and potentially fatal disorder known as fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes mental retardation, diminished motor coordination, and distinct facial abnormalities. Facial abnormalities caused by FAS can include short eyelid openings, small upturned noses, small head, thin upper lip, and widely spaced eyes (Berk,

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