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Teratogen

  • In: Encyclopedia of Epidemiology
  • Edited by: Sarah Boslaugh
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Health Research Methods , Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Teratology is the study of the effects of exposures during pregnancy on a developing fetus. These exposures, known as teratogens, can be quite varied and include agents such as medications, illicit drugs, infectious diseases, maternal metabolic states, and occupational and environmental exposures. A teratogen can cause a spontaneous loss of pregnancy or structural and/or functional disability in a child. It has been estimated that 5% to 10% of birth defects are due to an exposure during pregnancy.

The following are the five characteristics of a teratogen. The first characteristic is that the occurrence of the birth defect or pattern of birth defects is higher in the population exposed to the teratogen as compared with the general population. Since 3% to 5% of all newborns have a ...

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