Teratogenic agents have been linked to numerous congenital malformations. The ability to recognize the effects of teratogenic agents like alcohol can reduce the likelihood of their consumption during pregnancy and eliminate the risks of fetal abnormalities.
Alcohol is one of the main teratogenic agents that affect embryos during the embryonic development stage in pregnancy. The embryonic period is characterized by ocular and brain development. During the third week after fertilization, the three embryonic germ layers, which include ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm, are formed, and between this point to the sixth week, the cranial neural crest cells are vulnerable to alcohol-induced harm. Some of the effects that might result include midline facial abnormalities, atrial and ventricular abnormalities, distorted valve formation, reduction in white matter, optic nerve hypoplasia, microphthalmia (Corrales-Getierrez, Mendoza, Gomez-Baya, & Leon-Larios, 2019; Watson & Zibadi, 2017). These abnormalities continue to affect the development of the embryo even after birth.
Numerous issues are associated with preterm infants. Some of them include breathing difficulties or respiratory distress syndrome, apnea, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia that occur due to the immature respiratory system, intraventricular hemorrhage since the brain is not well developed, and hypothermia as they have limited body fat when compared to a full-term infant. Others include necrotizing enterocolitis that might be associated with an immature gastrointestinal system and can occur as the infant starts feeding, hypoglycemia due to metabolism problem, and neonatal sepsis that might be linked to immune systems problems or risks of infections in the newborn unit (Granese, et al., 2019). While some of these issues may be short-term and easy to manage, others like intraventricular hemorrhage might lead to permanent brain damage.
Newborns are more competent than I thought. The ability of preterm infants, born a few weeks before their due date, to adapt to their environment and the ability of newborns to differentiate between their parents with other people proves that they are far more developed than people assume.
Corrales-Getierrez, I., Mendoza, R., Gomez-Baya, D., & Leon-Larios, F. (2019). Pregnant Women’s Risk Perception of the Teratogenic Effects of Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(6), 907. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8060907.
Granese, R., Gitto, E., D’Angelo, G., Falsaperla, R., Corsello, G., Amadore, D., . . . Triolo, O. (2019). Preterm birth: seven-year retrospective study in a single centre population. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 45(45), 1-6. https://ijponline.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s13052-019-0643-9.
Watson, R. R., & Zibadi, S. (2017). Addictive Substances and Neurological Disease: Alcohol, Tobacco, Caffeine, and Drugs of Abuse in Everyday Lifestyles. Elsevier Science.