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Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than ' million visitors each month.

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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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May 10, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts

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Not Enough Known About Prescription Drug Use in Pregnancy

Prescription drug use during pregnancy is prevalent, however, not enough is known about the adverse effects they may have on the developing fetus

According to a new review by academics at the UCL Institute of Child Health, and published in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG) today, a majority of women take prescriptions for pregnancy-related complaints and minor infections in pregnancy. However, a small proportion of pregnant women receive medication for treatment of chronic diseases such as asthma, depression or hypertension as well.

With the prevalence of congenital malformations estimated at 2–3% of all births, approximately 1% are considered attributable to prescription drug use during pregnancy, states the review.

Two common groups of drugs, anti-epileptics and antidepressants are explored in the review.

Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the most studied group of drugs in pregnancy, with an estimated 1 in 250 pregnancies exposed.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that it is not possible to comment on the risks of physical abnormalities from the drugs in view of the limited data available.

The review also looks at preliminary data collated from the UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register which found that the risk of congenital malformations with the use of one AED was 3.7% (n = 2598), compared with 6.0% (n = 770) in those women taking two or more AEDs.

Up to 4% of women use antidepressants during pregnancy, with 2.3% taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

A large birth defect registry study found no association between maternal SSRI use and cardiac malformations. However, the review states that antidepressant use in late pregnancy is associated with neonatal complications such as premature birth, feeding problems, respiratory distress syndrome, endocrine and metabolic disorders and temperature regulation disorders.

The review concludes that our evidence base for using prescription drugs in pregnancy remains limited and that drug companies do not recruit pregnant women to their clinical trials unless the drug in question is aimed at pregnancy-related disease.

“Many pregnant women use prescription drugs, however, the risk to the fetus remains unknown," says Dr Alastair Sutcliffe, Senior Lecturer in Child Health at UCL Institute of Child Health and co-author of the review.

“Pregnant women are excluded from clinical trials which means when new drugs are released there is almost no information on their safety and efficacy in pregnancy.”

Jason Waugh, TOG’s Editor–in-Chief, says: “The maternal physiological changes that occur during pregnancy can alter what the body does to the drug in some cases. More research is needed into the fetal effects of some drugs as there are big gaps in our knowledge."

Original article: http://www.rcog.org.uk/news/tog-release-not-enough-known-about-prescription-drug-use-pregnancy-say-experts