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Teratogens and Ocular Malformations 

Teratogens and Ocular Malformations
Chapter:
Teratogens and Ocular Malformations
Author(s):

Kerstin Strömland

and Marilyn T. Miller

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195326147.003.0002
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date: 25 November 2020

The aim of teratology is to remove or reduce a pregnant woman's contact with the teratogenic agent. This is achieved in a variety of ways, depending on the teratogen. Environmental factors, once proven to be teratogenic, often can be decreased or removed (e.g., methyl mercury poisoning). A vaccine may be developed against infectious diseases. The use of drugs during pregnancy should be limited, when possible, and the drug with the lowest teratogenic potential should be chosen. For diabetic women, careful control of serum blood levels during pregnancy is emphasized.

The prevention of prenatal lesions caused by alcohol consumption provides the greatest challenge to society. It is a lifestyle problem that requires continuous professional education to detect and treat at-risk group—the alcohol abusers. There is no limit below which it is safe for a pregnant woman to drink alcohol. The full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome, with its most devastating symptom mental retardation, is the product of chronic maternal alcoholism but is just the tip of the iceberg. Lesions can occur at levels of alcoholic exposure significantly below those needed to produce dysmorphic features, and we do not know how little alcohol exposure is needed to produce any damage.

The use of illicit drugs among women of childbearing age is a rapidly increasing problem in the Western world. Intense attention from medical and social authorities is required to make women understand that they are responsible for the future well-being of their unborn child and therefore must refrain from the use of such drugs during pregnancy.

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