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Teratology. 2002 Apr;65(4):153-61.

Update on new developments in the study of human teratogens.

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University of Washington, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle, Washington 98195-6320, USA.



The purpose of this annual article is to highlight and briefly review new and significant information on agents that may be teratogenic in pregnant women. Various sources of on-line and printed information are given.


The following topics have been discussed: 1) lithium medication: decreased estimate of risk; 2) cigarette smoking and genotype as contributors to oral-facial clefts and clubfoot; 3) trimethoprim; 4) methimazole syndrome?; 5) glucocorticoids and oral-facial clefts; 6) binge drinking; 7) fetal valproate syndrome; and 8) carbamazepine.


We have highlighted several maternal exposures during pregnancy that are associated with small but increased rates of birth defects, generally only a few cases per 1,000 infants. These exposures include cigarette smoking, and treatment with lithium, trimethoprim, methimazole, or corticosteroids. This weak teratogenic effect was usually identified by the linkage of an uncommon treatment with an unusual birth defect outcome. The use of modern epidemiologic techniques, especially prospective multicenter studies that provide increased numbers, has helped to strengthen the evidence for these associations. We discuss how teratogenic risks that are small in comparison to the background risk can be presented to at-risk women and their doctors. We have briefly listed some elements that might be used in prioritizing further studies of suspected teratogenic exposures. Various existing methods for expressing the strength of evidence for human teratogenicity are also given.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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