Derived from the Greek word for monster, teratogens characterize a host of agents or substances that result in developmental abnormalities after exposure during pregnancy. Exposure to teratogens can result in a range of abnormalities, including congenital malformations, emotional or behavioral disturbances, developmental delays, and intellectual impairment. Complications from teratogen exposure may also result in miscarriage, spontaneous abortion, preterm labor, or maternal illness. This entry discusses characteristics of teratogens, the effects of teratogens on development, and predictive factors.

Principles of Teratogens

Sensitivity to teratogenic effects depends on the species of the organism. Teratogenic effects vary depending on developmental stages, timing of exposure, and periods that are critical or sensitive for particular agents or organs. Teratogens act with specific mechanisms on cells and tissues to create developmental effects. Effects ...

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