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Name: leff
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Date: Around 1993

What is a teratogen?

A teratogen is a chemical that causes a fetus to develop incorrectly, there are many examples of these. Perhaps one of the most common is alcohol. When a pregnant woman drinks excessively the baby is born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which includes a combination of physical and mental problems.


Teratogen means, in Greek, "monster forming". Teratogens are chemicals that cause abnormalities in embryos. Alcohol certainly is one. Perhaps the most famous is thalidomide, a drug originally designed to combat morning sickness is pregnant women. It caused the long bones in the arms or legs to be absent, resulting in babies with severely stunted arms or legs. Rarely, a microorganism such as a bacterium can be teratogenic. One is Toxoplasma, which causes toxoplasmosis. It is carried by rabbits and cats and can be common in your yard, which is why doctors often advise pregnant women to wear latex gloves when gardening.


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