top of page

What are Teratogens

The term teratology stems from the Greek teras, teratos which means"monster" and logos, meaning "the word" or, more loosely, "the study of". In the 19th century it acquired a meaning more closely related to biological deformities, mostly in the field of botany.


A teratogenic substance is something that the mother has been exposed to during pregnancy that has affected the developing baby in the womb.  The potential affects to the child can be physical disabilities, learning disabilities, cognitive function, mental health or hormonal imbalances and preterm and premature births. These affects can be so diverse that they are difficult to identify in the child.


It is important to be aware of potential teratogenic substances that you may be exposed to during pregnancy.  This includes understanding the possible effects of a substance that may affect your child.  The first crucial period in pregnancy extends, from fertilization until the end of the first trimester.  As it is during this period that foetus develops its main organs, and it is during this time, that abnormalities and malformations can occur.   If you are concerned see your doctor, and if you have serious concerns you may be able to receive pre-pregnancy counselling. If you are having continued exposure, such as taking teratogenic medicines, you may need to consider if you can breast feed.

For more Information Leaflets about different types of teratogenic substances: 

bottom of page