What are some environmental factors that can affect prenatal development?

What are some environmental factors that can affect  prenatal development? 1

Teratogens = substances (such as drugs and pollutants) and conditions (such as severe malnutrition and extreme stress) that increase the risk of prenatal abnormalities; can cause:

  • Physical problems (missing limbs)
  • Brain damage (evident in elementary school)
  • Damage in body structure
  • Damage in growth rate
  • Damage in the neurological networks
  • Hyperactivity, antisocial, retardedness comes about due to the damages in brain (behavioral teratogens)

Environment = pollutants, toxic wastes

Mother’s age = infants born to adolescents are often premature; infant mortality (death) more common; Down Syndrome; 30 and above – more risky; best age for women – in their twenties

Nutrition = need appropriate levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals

Maternal diseases and infections = e.g. Rubella (affects organ development), Syphilis (damages the already formed organs), HIV

Drugs = tobacco, alcohol, prescribed or illegal drugs; e.g.: Thalidomide – devastating effects – children born without limbs; alcohol – facial deformities, defective limbs, face and heart, below average intelligence, less attentive and alert; cigarette – fetal & neonatal death, preterm birth, lower birth weights, respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome

Poverty = low birth weight

Emotions = intense physiological changes in the fetus – restricts blood flow, deprive fetus adequate oxygen

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