Teratogens and Prevention

Teratogens and Prevention


Pregnancy is a period of time when a mother should take special care about what she eats, drinks and what life style she leads. Nowadays there is a lot of information that can help young mothers to give birth to a healthy child. Nevertheless, there still are individuals, such as Ashley, who ignore the basic rules of pregnancy. Pernicious habits such as smoking or alcohol drinking have a negative effect on an adult person. These habits bring enormous harm to the whole human organism and cause different diseases including cancer. Smoking and drinking have even more adverse health impact on an unborn baby. Actually doctors recommend to cease smoking and drinking alcohol at least three months before the beginning of pregnancy. In Ashleys case the situation is even more complicated because she continues to keep her ordinary lifestyle without realizing the possible consequences (Owing, 2005).

It is essential to analyze the consequences of smoking. Smoking during pregnancy affects the childs health before and after it is born. Cigarettes contain nicotine, carbon monoxide and many other poisonous substances that are carried via bloodstream directly to the child. The consequences of smoking during pregnancy are as follows:

- decrease in the amount of oxygen that a baby receives, which may cause mental deviation;

- increased chances of stillbirth or miscarriage;

- increased risk that a baby will be born with low weight;

- increased heart rate;

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- risk of inspiratory problems, problems with lungs.

The more Ashley smokes every day, the higher chances that she will bear an unhealthy baby are. Moreover, there is no safe amount of smoked cigarettes; every cigarette causes harm to the baby. In fact, Ashleys habit to smoke has the same consequences for her baby as passive smoking. Passive smoking is even more dangerous; it increases the risk of development of heart diseases, allergies, asthma, lung cancer, emphysema and many other health problems.

Alcohol drinking is as harmful as smoking and causes irreparable harm to babys health. Even a glass of wine, which is often considered healthy, will negatively affect the baby. Researchers state that regular alcohol drinking during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. When a mother takes alcohol, it travels through the bloodstream directly to the baby. In babys organism, alcohol decomposes slowly and thus, the baby has a higher level of alcohol in blood than the mother. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of having problems with speech, learning, language, attention span and hyperactivity. Some researchers state that one drink a month or a glass of champagne on a special event will not bring harm to a baby. Nevertheless, other scholars recommend avoiding drinking alcohol completely. According to Spohr & Steinhausen (1996), even those children whose mothers drank little during pregnancy have mental disorders. Moreover, these children are more aggressive and often demonstrate inappropriate behavior.

Experts have even coined a special term to describe a range of problems that relate to children whose parents drink alcohol during pregnancy; this term is FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders). The most serious result of alcohol drinking is fetal alcohol syndrome which includes such disorders as poor growth, damage of central nervous system and abnormal facial features. Moreover, babies with this syndrome have small heads and brains, the size of their hearts is also small, and they have anatomical defects (Spohr & Steinhausen, 1996).

As evident from the facts provided above, smoking and drinking cause serious damage to the baby and result in numerous diseases and defects. Ashley behaves irrationally because she probably does not realize all consequences of such a lifestyle. Perhaps she, as well as many other mothers who ignore these rules, believes that all these problems will not affect her, and she will bear a healthy baby. If Ashley were my real friend, especially if she were my close friend, I would take all possible measures to enlighten her. First of all, I would provide evidences such as consequences of drinking and smoking during pregnancy and how it can affect a baby. I would use valid statistical information that could prove my statements and perhaps change Ashleys opinion. If these measures were not enough, I would find training courses for young mothers that teach women to adhere to certain rules during pregnancy. Probably, if Ashley sees some videos or documentary films about consequences of alcohol drinking and smoking for the organism of a baby, she will change her mind. The terrifying pictures of children who suffer from mental disorders or have other defects will make anybody change their current opinion. I believe that Ashley will stop drinking and smoking when she realizes the difficulties she and her baby will face. I will also describe her future life in bright colors, and I think it would be enough for Ashley to say no to alcohol and smoking for at least a year. This period of time is not too long, and each person can give up their bad habits for the sake of their own babys health.

In order to tackle smoking and drinking as a social problem, it would be appropriate to provide educational programs for future mothers. These trainings will not include information about nutrition or exercises that pregnant women should do. They will educate mothers on possible harm they can cause to their unborn children. The trainings will include a lot of video materials because information that is received visually is more effective. Women should see what problems unhealthy lifestyle may bring both to a mother and child. The courses should also include discussions that will raise the issues of healthy lifestyle of future mothers. An expert who will lead these trainings will give valid information about what young women should do and what they should never do. Moreover, it would be useful to provide help for those young mothers who have nicotine addiction or cannot stop drinking during pregnancy. Collective support is always effective in such cases, and it will be easier for people who suffer from nicotine or alcohol addiction to change their lives.

The health state of women during the pregnancy is the problem that should be addressed at the governmental level. The issue of a healthy nation begins from the new generation and the government should take care about the health of women who are going to become mothers. Social support is the smallest thing that the government can provide for future mothers. Thus, if a state is interested in healthy people that will bring many benefits for the development of the country and for its economic and political prosperity, it should take all possible measures to reduce the cases of bearing unhealthy babies.

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