Teratogens can be defined as any agent that can be disturb the development of an embryo or fetus. This may cause a birth defect in a child or halt the pregnancy outright. Teratogen are broken into classes that includes: radiation, maternal infections, chemicals and drugs. It tends to harm the prenatal brain, affecting the future child’s intellectual and emotional functioning.
Effects of Teratogens
While all teratogens increase the threat of harm to the development of a child, none always cause damage. The critical impact depends on the complex interchange of numerous factors. These are factors are timing, exposure and genetic variability. Timing is a critical factor doing the pregnancy when teratogen can be exposed to the fetus. Some teratogen cause damage only in a specific days or weeks while others are harmful doing any time of the pregnancy. Exposure is another effect that is harmful to the pregnancy due to the development of organism. Genetic variability is another factor that determines whether a specific teratogen will be harmful is the make-up of developing organism having and not having certain genes may make the developing child more susceptible to teratogens.
Ways to Avoid Teratogens
It’s imperative that pregnant moms educate themselves on teratogens and importance of avoiding things that cause harm to their body. The only safe option of action is to avoid the risk of mothers being exposed to teratogens during pregnancy is to avoid taking any type of medication if possible, being exposed to excessive heat, herbal treatments, children with rashes, fever and runny nose, alcohol, tobacco, lead & radiation.
Resources to be informed about Teratogens
It is essential that all pregnant mothers get all the necessary knowledge on avoiding teratogens. Consulting their primary OBGYN is the number one source of receiving informative information concerning teratogens. Visiting their local health department is another helpful source. If the mother would like to do her own personal research, she can always visit the internet to google any questions or concerns she may have concerning teratogen and how it may affect her pregnancy.
Some expecting mothers aren’t aware of Teratogens, what they are and how they may affect prenatal and infant development. Teratogens is a term used to refer to any environmental agent that causes damage during the prenatal period. (Berk & Meyers, 2016). Such as alcohol, tobacco, prescribed medication, drugs, or even a hereditary disease from the mother now can cause the unborn baby to be born with defects like spontaneous abortions, preterm labor or miscarriage.
The teratogen I would discuss is alcohol. Alcohol is one of the popular teratogen. Women who use or abuse alcohol is at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a term that encompasses a range of physical, mental, and behavioral outcomes caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. This disorder can cause facial abnormalities such as thin upper lips and short eyelid openings. It can also cause brain injuries that can impair three areas of function like language, attention span, social skills and memory. The effects of damaged cause by the teratogen depends on the fetus age, poor nutrition and lack of care. Another factor is dosage larger doses over longer time periods usually have more negative effects.
Alcohol disrupts the neurotransmitters so messages are unable to get from one area to another. Because there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can be prevented by not consuming any alcohol during pregnancy (Streissguth, n.d.).
To better assist and educate women who aren’t aware of teratogens and how to avoid them and their effects I would provide resources such as articles “Alcohol Abuse in Pregnant Women Effects on the Fetus and Newborn, Mode of Action and Maternal Treatment” where they can read up on the information. (Ornoy, A., & Ergaz, Z. (2010). Alcohol Abuse in Pregnant Women: Effects on the Fetus and Newborn, Mode of Action and Maternal Treatment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 7(2), 364–379. ). As well as provide centers that will support the women needs like National Institute: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Nature versus nurture was always taught to be the way a child grows and develops throughout childhood. Even though twins maybe from the same wound it states that they can become very different. The way they are raised doesn’t always make them have the same personalities. After hearing cast on “Twins Data Reshaping Nature Versus Nurture Debate” and reading “Multiple Offspring” in Chapter 2, one has come to the understanding that twin are just normal people. The only difference is they have the same genetic makeup and shared the same space at one time. No matter how they were raised they may have some of the same characteristics and be very different.
The most interesting part of the conversation was when Miller mentioned the twin boys which one had autism and the other was a genius. This was amazing because one thought that if one had autism then the other one would have it also. Some things are so fascinating because it was like one of the twins compensated for the other one. Miller also mentioned that autism is a developmental syndrome and it was thought to be genetic or inherited. So, how could this be when this happens? This is amazing because when you think scientist has found the answer to something then, something more amazing happens to baffle them.
Social and cultural environments impact newborns by lack of medical care and poor nourishment. The text it states some cultural differences can impact a newborn’s behavior by the way mothers care for their babies. I have noticed that some children who are raised in a different cultural background are very different from others. For example, I was raised in a different culture where you are supposed to breastfeed and keep the baby close to you at all times. We did this for the first three months and then placed the baby in their own bed. I never had any problems with them crying or screaming other than when they were dirty, hungry or sick. After these were taken care of they just laid around or went to sleep.
Conan, N. (2012-02-01). Twins Data Reshaping Nature Versus Nurture Debate.
Nature versus Nurture.
Nature is defined as hereditary and evident at the point of conception while nurture is ultimately shaped by a combination of forces like society in conjunction with our biological makeup and experiences after birth. The reading outlined how nature and nurture work together to shape development. I found it interesting that the reading posed a question of how scientist could be sure that heredity and environment had such a substantial impact on development when they work in many ways. The podcast inadvertently proposed this point through the many examples given through experiences of twins. Neither source denied that heredity and environment did not shape development in some form. However, the podcast, in my opinion, defied what would be the “scientific explanation” for the way that twins live their lives. A good example of this would be the story of the gay twin.
Social and cultural environments.
The identity issue of nature versus nurture that is not taken into consideration according to the podcast is that differences do not necessarily yield an issue with nurture but the assertion of identity. It was also mentioned that only twins understand the pressure that society puts on twins. In my experiences with twins, society often views twins as “the twins” as mentioned in the podcast. It is difficult for twins to break away from that and be viewed as individuals. Social and cultural environments impact newborn through exposure and stimulation. While the responsiveness can vary, studies show that highly enriched environment produce higher intelligence scores.
I found it interesting how twins coming from different sides of the embryo have different genes that are turned off and are no longer the same after the split. Splitting embryos at day five results in two completely different people even though they are sharing DNA. It was also interesting to hear stories of “twin telepathy”. I would be interested on learning the scientific explanation behind twin telepathy.
I have taught two sets of twins in my professional career. One set was girls and the other a girl and boy. In both cases, each set of twins had very different personalities and character traits. I do believe nature versus nurture had an impact based on my observations. The twins of opposite sex had challenges opposite of the same sex twins. The opposite sex twins often struggled with the issue of who was the oldest and biggest. Ironically, the girl is the oldest and tallest by almost six inches. However, they score similar across all developmental domains which I equate to heredity. In my experience with the same sex, it was often a competition of who was the better twin. I am not sure if this occurred because they were girls but it was detrimental to both because they could not focus without trying to “one up” the other twin which I equate to environment. The podcast was insightful and has opened my mind to nature versus nurture in a way that is not contained to infant development.