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How do teratogens relate to birth defects?

A teratogen is a substance or any other factor that may lead to a birth defect. Birth defects commonly occur between the third and the eighth week of a pregnancy. Those who are pregnant in North Carolina or anywhere else are urged to avoid certain chemicals as well as drugs and alcohol while pregnant. However, there are some instances where an infection could cause a birth defect, which may be outside of the mother's control.

There are a variety of medications that women may wish to avoid as they can lead to birth defects. Drugs such as aminopterin, warfarin and ACE inhibitors can lead to nervous system problems, inadequate growth and even death in a fetus. Using alcohol while pregnant may increase the odds that a child will have behavioral issues, and smoking during a pregnancy may lead to premature birth.

Babies who are exposed to drugs while inside their mothers could go through withdrawal symptoms. Exposure to marijuana may increase the risk of a low birth weight in a newborn baby. If a mother uses cocaine while pregnant, that child could be jittery or have an underdeveloped urinary tract. Cocaine may also increase the risk of the mother having a miscarriage.

If a baby suffers a birth injury while being delivered or an injury due to a misdiagnosis prior to being born, it may be possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The doctor and/or hospital where the baby was born may be held financially liable for such an injury. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help parents win compensation in the form of punitive damages or compensation to pay for any additional costs related to treating the baby's injury.

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