Teratogen Information

What is a teratogen?

A teratogen is an agent that can cause malformations of an embryo or fetus. This can be a chemical substance, a virus or ionizing radiation. This is closely related to a fetotoxin, an agent that causes poisoning effects on a developing fetus.

Both fetotoxins and teratogens are reproductive toxins, substances which cause damage to one's reproductive and/or endocrine system and/or a developing fetus.

List of Known Teratogens

  • Ionizing radiation: atomic weapons, radioactive iodine, radiation therapy, X-Rays (high doses)
  • Infections: cytomegalovirus, herpes virus, parvovirus B-19 (Fifth Disease), rubella virus (German measles), syphilis, toxoplasmosis
  • Metabolic imbalance: alcoholism, uncontrolled diabetes, folic acid deficiency, hyperthermia (episode of severely high body temperature), phenylketonuria, rheumatic disease and congenital heart block, virilizing tumors
  • Drugs and environmental chemicals: Accutane, temazepam (Restoril), aminopterin, androgenic (male) hormones like testosterone and male baldness medications, captopril, enalapril, chlorobiphenyls (PCBs), Dioxin, coumarin, cyclophosphamide, diethylstilbestrol (DES), diphenylhydantoin (Phenytoin, Dilantin), ethanol (alcohol),  lithium, methimazole, organic mercury, penicillamine, tetracyclines, thalidomide, trimethadione, valproic acid and many more.

The MotherToBaby CA

The MotherToBaby CA, formerly known as the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line and Clinical Research Program, is a statewide service. Our goal is to promote healthy pregnancies through education and research.

What services do they provide?

MothertoBaby provides FREE information about the following exposures during pregnancy:

  • Over the Counter Medications
  • Prescription Medications
  • Vitamins/Supplements
  • Alcohol/Recreational Drugs
  • Vaccinations or Immunizations
  • Diseases or Infections
  • Chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • Occupational Exposures
  • Paternal Exposures

They also provide information about the effects of medications taken while breastfeeding.

This service is offered to the general public, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, women planning their pregnancy, fathers, physicians, and other health care providers. The information and counseling is provided in a non-directive, and non-judgmental manner.

How do I contact MotherToBaby CA?

To speak with a Teratogen Information Specialist about your questions call: 1-866-626-6847 from anywhere in North America, or email a counselor.

The March of Dimes

The leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health, dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.