Last Updated on Apr 22, 2016

How do Teratogenic Drugs cause Birth Defects?

Teratogenic drugs cause birth defects by damaging the fetus or placenta or umbilical cord; or by causing uterine contractions.

Teratogenic drugs can cause birth defects by-

  • Damaging the fetus directly
  • Damaging the placenta or umbilical cord, thus increasing the risk of birth defects
  • Causing uterine contractions that can injure the fetus or cause premature delivery

The kind, nature and frequency of birth defects caused by a teratogen depends on-

  • The property of the drug
  • Rate and amount of drug reaching the fetus
  • Duration of exposure
  • Stage of the fetal development at the time of exposure
  • Effect of other drugs used in combination

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