Laws to Prevent Children from Being Exposed to Teratogens During the Prenatal Period

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Vin Green
MR. Lysaght
Abnormal Psychology
22 May 2013

Laws to Prevent Children from Being Exposed to Teratogens During The Prenatal Period

Many recreational substances such as alcohol and cigarettes are regulated because they can have harmful effects on the user, however these drugs can also have very serious psychological and physical effects on the users’ progeny. There are many Americans who would say that it is our right to consume whatever we want, regardless of our condition, but isn’t it worth making punishments meant to discourage drug use become stricter so as to protect unborn children? It is my personal belief that it should be illegal for pregnant women to smoke cigarettes or to drink in excess. For these laws to actually be enforced the woman in question would need to be in the later stages of her pregnancy and obviously pregnant. I believe that these increased punishments are necessary because of the terrifying data coming from studies on teratogens, primarily cigarettes and alcohol. Nicotine is an addictive chemical found in cigarettes which has come under scrutiny in recent years for its unhealthy properties. Nicotine, along with carbon monoxide, has been shown to interfere with the growing fetus’s oxygen supply. This means that the baby is not getting the maximum amount of oxygen and nutrients it could be. This by itself is a sobering fact, however it is much worse; the placenta is easily permeate by nicotine, so the child is actually exposed to higher levels of nicotine than the mother who is smoking the cigarette. It has been shown in multiple studies by the National Institutes of Health that this chemical can “affect cognition [in children exposed as fetuses] and is associated with behavioral problems.” (NIH). In addition to this, children who exposed to cigarettes in utero are almost twice as likely to become addicted to cigarettes after trying them. Cigarettes and nicotine in general (patch, gum, etc) should be kept away from...