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CHAPTER 4 PRENATAL DEVELOPMENT AND BIRTH PRENATAL DEVELOPMENT HAZARDS TO PRENATAL DEVELOPMENT General Principles Teratogen is any agent that can potentially cause a birth defect or negatively alter cognitive/behavioral outcomes. Teratogens include drugs, incompatible blood types, environmental pollutants, infection diseases, nutritional deficiencies, maternal stress, and advanced maternal/paternal age. Dose, genetic susceptibility and time of exposure to a particular teratogen influence both severity of damage to embryo and fetus and type of defect: - Dose : greater the dose of an agent, the greater the effect - Genetic Susceptibility : type or severity of abnormalities caused is linked to the genotype of pregnant woman and genotype of fetus. The extent to which a fetus is vulnerable may also depend on its genotype - Time of Exposure : teratogens do more damage when they occur at some points in development than others. It is most vulnerable at embryonic period. Prescription and Non-prescription Drugs Many women of the U.S. are given prescription drugs while pregnant, especially antibiotics, asthma, and analgesics. Some drugs in the 1960s that helped morning sickness varied on the effects on the fetus by the time of her trimester. Today certain antibiotics, antidepressants, hormones could be harmful while the non-prescription drugs including diet pills and aspirin could be particularly harmful to the fetus during pregnancy. Psychoactive Drugs Psychoactive drugs are drugs that act on nervous system causing altered states of consciousness, modified perceptions, and change in mood. Drugs including caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine as well as many illegal drugs could have a major effect on the fetus. - Caffeine : caffeine consumption during pregnancy causes a small increase in risks for spontaneous abortion and low birth weight if pregnant women consuming more than 150 mgs. per day. If more than that, it could cause death to the fetus. - Alcohol : heavy drinking by pregnant women can cause fetal alcohol syndrome ( FAS ) which is a cluster of abnormalities that appears in offspring of alcoholic mothers through which abnormalities include: facial deformities and defective
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course PSY 235 taught by Professor Pak during the Spring '08 term at Rhode Island.

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