Tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy dramatically risk the fetus in developing teratogen-related conditions, such as birth defects and malformations. If a pregnant mother obtains substances contained in alcohol (e. g. ethanol, methyl aspartate, etc. ) and/or tobacco (e. g. nicotine, nitrosamines, etc. ), fetal development becomes altered due to the physiological deposition of tobacco or alcohol compounds in the mother’s blood stream directed to the fetal circulation chronically producing teratogenic effects or birth anomalies. a.
Overview: Tobacco and Alcohol: Fetuses Proven by various scholarly studies (Wisborg, Kesmodel and Henriksen et al. , 2001; Chudley, Conry and Cook et al. , 2005), tobacco smoking and alcohol intake during pregnancy (approximately from 16th week gestation and onwards) produce untoward abnormalities on fetuses. According to Hanson, Venturelli and Fleckenstein (2005), toxic substances from alcohol and smoking are able to cross the placenta through maternal-fetal circulation and chronically deforming the fetus through spontaneous teratogenic actions (p. 202).
Facial deformities, stunted growth, mental retardation and limb abnormalities are the most common birth defects associated with teratogen-afflicted fetuses (Miller, 2004 p. 121-122). Clinical studies (Pirie, Lando and Curry et al. , 2000; Lorente, Cordier and Goujard et al. , 2001) suggest a parallel relationship between alcohol/tobacco consumption and the severity of fetal deformities, and the absence of safe level for alcohol/tobacco consumption among pregnant women. b. Scopes and Limitations
Tobacco and alcohol effects on fetal development are the subjects of discussion in this paper. Critical points of the subject involving physiology, teratology and fetal development are analyzed and reviewed using scholarly literatures identifying the fetal processes and physiologic relationships involved. The subsections of the paper consist of (a) fetal effects of tobacco and alcohol, (b) teratogenic effects associated with these substances, and (c) cultural, social and economic implications associated to the consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
Discussion a. Fetal Effects of Tobacco and Alcohol Tobacco and alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been proven to afflict birth abnormalities and defects. Meanwhile, the outcome teratogenic effects associated with tobacco and alcohol consumptions are still under several clinical investigations and crucial debates (Lorente, Cordier and Goujard et al. , 2001).
According to Hanson, Venturelli and Fleckenstein (2005), clinical trials mostly disregard the contributions of other exhaustive elements, such as heredity, nutrition, environment, culture, etc. , in analyzing the cause-effect relationship between alcohol/tobacco consumption and teratogenic effects (p. 203). Substances contained in alcohol, such as ethanol, methyl aspartate, and tobacco, such as nicotine, nitrosamines (NNAL-Gluc), predispose the fetal risk for teratogenic effects parallel to the consumption of these substances (Lorente, Cordier and Goujard et al. , 2001).
As explained by Olney, Wozniak and Farber (2002), alcohol, especially those with ethanol derivatives, induces neurotoxic effects on fetus brought by fetal cellular apoptosis (cell death) caused by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist and gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) mimetic properties, which are commonly found in alcoholic beverages. Clinical trials suggest the protein-selective binding of alcohol pockets into the fetus’ neural proteins essential to the development of nervous development (Wilkemeyer, Sebastian and Smith et al. , 2000).