Teratogens- Exposure to Monsters in the Perinatal Stage of Child Development

    Teratogens- Exposure to Monsters in the Perinatal Stage of Child Development

    Mallika Balluni

    As a woman, when you first get the confirmation that you have conceived and a new being is inside your belly, you feel on cloud nine. You want to protect it with all your might all those 9 months. You avoid anything that may cause your baby any damage. You want a healthy baby, isn’t it?

    However, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Some babies are born with some deformities. While the probability of having a congenitally deformed baby has multiple reasons and genetics involved, some substances called teratogens cause malformations in the developing embryo. Tragic but true, hence important to know.


    There are majorly 4 types of teratogens whose exposure in perinatal stage( 7th month of gestation to 2 weeks post birth) can cause baby malformations:

    1. Physical: Physical agents include ionizing radiations like X-rays, gamma rays and others that can increase body temperature. Common conditions caused by them are microcephaly(small head circumference of baby) and small eyes. Other ways in which body temperature can increase are hot tubs and infections that cause enlarged hearts, skeletal deformities, central nervous system malformations etc.
    2. Chemical: Substances like few drugs, alcohol, cocaine, retinoids cause absence of one eye, cleft palate, hind leg deformations etc.
    3. Metabolic conditions: Malnutrition, endocrine conditions like diabetes and thyroid issues cause defects of spinal cord and brain, preterm labour, low IQ of the child, premature placenta detachment etc.
    4. Viral infections: Infections of Herpes simplex virus, Cytomegalovirus, Rubella cause cataracts in babies along with other congenital deformities.


    Other than this, genetics and various other factors contribute to such deformities in new-borns. It is needless to say that a pregnant woman should avoid the stated teratogens for a healthy pregnancy. Moreover, mothers-to-be should get 3 month check-ups and ultrasounds to detect early signs of such anomalies in the foetus.

    Happy pregnancy, ladies!


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