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What is a "teratogen" and how does it relate to birth injuries?

New Mexico residents are likely aware that there are certain things expecting mothers should not do while pregnant. Smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and using illegal drugs all contribute to problems with a pregnancy and birth. Nonetheless, there may be circumstances where an expecting mother may not be able to prevent a birth injury.

In the medical and scientific communities, "teratogen" is the word for any substance that interferes with the normal development of an embryo. It is anything that might cause a birth defect or create a situation, such as premature delivery, that could lead to a higher risk of a birth injury. Teratogens can come in many forms, from biological abnormalities in uterine shape to infections, to drugs or other chemical substances.

Sometimes, bad things just happen. And, babies born with physical or mental problems due to genetics or other factors no one has control are heartbreaking. However, when a child's life is permanently altered because one cared more about profit than the health of patients, the outcome is much harder to take.

For example, many people take various medications for many reasons, and some of these turn out to be teratogens. Thalidomide, a tranquilizer given to many women in Europe turned out to be the cause of serious birth defects.

When adequately warned of such possible effects, women who are pregnant can avoid such substances and keep themselves and their babies healthy. But, when a pharmaceutical company does not ensure doctors prescribing such drugs are aware of these potential consequences, or doctors do not recognize the dangers and tell patients not to take them, these medications can be the cause of terrible injuries to new-born children. When this kind of medical malpractice occurs, parents may have a right to compensation for their child's injury.

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