Teratogens and Prevention

Topics: Pregnancy, Fetal alcohol syndrome, Prenatal development Pages: 5 (1477 words) Published: October 21, 2010


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Teratogens and Prevention

Dear Ashley:
I can imagine how you may feel being pregnant for the first time. You may have many questions and concerns about what is the best way to manage yourself during your pregnancy, and you may not be aware of how important it is to learn to take care of your health, especially at this particular time.

Since I have known you, I have noticed some of your habits, smoking and drinking. I know that you may not care about the effects that it can cause you because you may think that they are not very harmful since you are a young girl who appears to be in very good health. However, because I am your friend, I took the courage of writing this letter to you, to give you advice because I care and I want the best for you and your baby.

Many times I have recommended that you stop smoking and drinking because they are bad, and they could be very harmful for your health in the long run. But, obviously I am not a scientist, so I cannot explain everything to you in a scientific manner. You should not be smoking or drinking while you are pregnant. I would like you to better understand from a scientific point of view, so I did some research about the effects of using Teratogens, (cigarettes and alcohol in your case). To prove to you in a credible way, I am using scientific books to give you broad information about it, so you can finally understand and consider changing your lifestyle especially during this period of time.

Ashley, these are some scientific results of many years of investigation that would give you a wider knowledge about the real reasons for not smoking or drinking while pregnant. The scientific conclusions on this paper are the results of scientific studies about tobacco and alcohol effects on the developing fetus and influences on later development in offspring.

Ashley, we all know that tobacco use during pregnancy affects fetal development on multiple levels. Nicotine readily crosses the placenta, in fetal tissue, and results in fetal concentrations of nicotine that can be 15% higher than those in the pregnant woman. The direct actions of nicotine on the fetus affect growth and neural development during the intrauterine period and have long-term effects on brain function, cognition, and behavior (Willford, 315).

Prenatal tobacco use affects the nutritional status of the mother, leading to an increased risk of having an infant with low birth weight and causes increased vascular resistance in the placenta, resulting in reduced oxygen flow to the fetus (Willford, 315).

A meta-analysis estimates that PTE, or prenatal tobacco exposure was responsible for up to 4800 infant deaths, 61,000 infants with LBW, or low birth weight, and 26,000 neonatal intensive care admissions per year (Willford, 316).

The effects of prenatal tobacco exposure can be seen even at lower levels of exposure: in one report, 11.5% of infants born to light smokers (less than six cigarettes a day) have low birth weight, compared to 7.5% of those born to non-smokers (Willford, 317).

Smoking during pregnancy is also significantly related to poorer performance on spelling, reading, and arithmetic among 5 to 11 year olds in other study (Willford, 319).
There is positive association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of ADHD in study children between the ages of 6 and 17 (Willford, 319).
There is consistent evidence that children exposed to tobacco during pregnancy are at an increased risk for behavioral problems, these behavioral effects persist into the adolescent and adults years. Maternal smoking during pregnancy predicts persistent criminal outcomes in adult male offspring in another study (Willford, 320).

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