Prompt: In the resources for Module Two, you reviewed a significant level of biological information for its impacts on development. Exposure to teratogens during sensitive periods of development presents a serious threat to the overall health of the individual. Tobacco products, alcohol, illicit drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Molly, etc.), and over-the-counter and prescription medications are common in the lives of many individuals. While the health risks would appear to make the use of these substances prohibitive during pregnancy and even after birth, there is a debate that moderate use or use under physician care is reasonably safe.
In this short paper, be sure to address the following critical elements:
Risks: Select one of the teratogens listed above and provide a summary of the risks that the teratogen presents to healthy development. What immediate risks from exposure may be apparent at birth and during the first year? What long-term risk might exposure be linked to for this teratogen? Consider physical, cognitive, social, and emotional domains when considering risks. If the risks are not proven, what supports the link to the chosen substance for that risk?
Position: Construct a position, backed by research, on the use of that substance during pregnancy. Given the current literature, would you consider this substance high- or low-risk during pregnancy and why? Is your position biased in any manner? (It is easy to say never to take anything during pregnancy, but is it supportable with evidence?) If use did not affect the unborn child, would your position change? Why or why not?
Changes: Summarize the changes or evolutions in professional opinions as they relate to your chosen teratogen. (For example, there is research supporting that cocaine use during pregnancy is not the threat it was previously believed to be.) What was the original position of professionals on the use of the teratogen during pregnancy? Has this position changed? How much of the position was due to social and political influences rather than medical or scientific?
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