Developmental toxicity is any structural or functional alteration, reversible or irreversible, which interferes with homeostasis, normal growth, differentiation, development or behavior, and which is caused by environmental insult (including drugs, lifestyle factors such as alcohol, diet, and environmental toxic chemicals or physical factors). Pathogens are generally included as well, despite some definitions not regarding biological organism as "toxic" by themselves. Developmental toxicology is a science studying adverse developmental outcomes. This term has widely replaced the early term for the study of primarily structural congenital abnormalities, teratology, to enable inclusion of a more diverse spectrum of congenital disorders.
Typical factors causing developmental toxicity are radiation, infections (e.g. rubella), maternal metabolic imbalances (e.g. alcoholism, diabetes, folic acid deficiency), drugs (e.g. anticancer drugs, tetracyclines, many hormones, thalidomide), and environmental chemicals (e.g. mercury, lead, dioxins, PBDEs, HBCD, tobacco smoke).
J.M. Rogers and R.J. Kavlock. Developmental toxicology, in Casarett & Doull's Toxicology (ed. C.D. Klaassen), 6th ed., pp. 351–386, McGraw-Hill, New York 2001. ISBN 0-07-134721-6.
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