There are many factors that can potentially impact the growth of a fetus in a negative way. Exposure to environmental toxins affects human development and general function in an incredible number of intricate complex ways. From the unborn fetus to the full-grown adult, toxic exposure can hinder physical, mental, and emotional development at any period. If interactions occur at key stages of development, such as those in the first trimester of pregnancy, resulting damage will be permanent.
The luxuries enjoyed by our modern lifestyle has brought with it an arsenal of chemical by-products released into the air, land, and water we interact with every day. These includes air, water, and food-borne pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides, cleaning products, car, school bus, and truck exhaust, and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic that may be present in paint, plastics, food and soil.
Environmental variables play a major role in prenatal development. Harmful environmental elements that can affect the fetus are known as teratogens. There are a number of teratogens that can harm the fetus, including:
* Maternal Drug Use - The use of substances by the mother can have devastating consequences to the fetus. Smoking is linked to low birth weight, which can result in a weakened immune system, poor respiration, and neurological impairment. Alcohol use can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which is linked to heart defects, body malformations, and mental retardation. The use of illicit psychoactive drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine is also linked to low birth weight and neurological impairment.
* Maternal Disease - There are a number of maternal diseases that can negatively impact the fetus, including herpes, rubella, and AIDS. Herpes virus is one of the most common maternal diseases and can be transmitted in the fetus, leading to deafness, brain swelling, or mental retardation. Women with herpes virus are often...