Adverse Pregnancy Exposures
Teratogens are substances in the environment that can cause a birth defect if your developing baby is exposed during pregnancy. Teratogens may include:
- Infectious agents (rubella, cytomegalovirus, varicella, herpes simplex, toxoplasma, syphilis, etc.)
- Physical agents (ionizing agents, hyperthermia); maternal health factors (diabetes, maternal PKU)
- Environmental chemicals (organic mercury compounds, polychlorinated biphenyl or PCB, herbicides and industrial solvents)
- Drugs (prescription, over- the-counter, recreational).
The dose and the time of exposure to a particular substance often determines whether the baby will be affected and to what extent. In general, the first trimester is a more vulnerable time for the baby than the second and third trimesters.
At St.Vincent Women's Hospital, we provide consultation regarding the effects of a particular exposure (i.e. prescription medication, recreational drugs, etc.) and assess what, if any, risks may be present. Screening options such as ultrasound are available to assess the baby’s well-being and development to determine whether identifiable structure birth defects or abnormalities are present. In some cases identifying such abnormalities prior to delivery may allow for early intervention and/or changes to delivery plans to optimize the baby’s care.
For more information, please contact the Center for Prenatal Diagnosis at (317) 415-8070 or the Maternal Fetal Medicine and Genetics Center at (317) 415-8100.
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