The University of Cincinnati is offering a preview of its online Teratology course. Teratology is the study of birth defects and agents that increase the risk for congenital and functional anomalies. Teratogenic agents include drugs, maternal diseases, malnutrition, genetic abnormalities, and environmental agents. The course begins with presentations on the basic principles of teratology, including how the body eliminates exogenous teratogens (pharmacokinetics) and how a person’s genome interacts with teratogens (pharmacogenetics). The course then explores well-established teratogens, including, but not limited to, folate deficiency, thalidomide, alcohol, drugs of abuse, radiation, environmental chemicals, and maternal conditions such as diabetes. Discussions on these agents include the nature of the agent, how pregnant mothers and their embryos/fetuses are exposed, and ways in which exposure can be mitigated. Students are given the opportunity to research and present on a teratogen of their choosing (not covered in the didactic presentations); most of these are agents for which their teratogenicity is subject to debate. This provides for stimulating discussion on how agents are determined to be teratogenic, and ethical dilemmas surrounding what to recommend to a pregnant woman who may be exposed to a suspected teratogen. The course also reviews how drugs, pesticides, and chemicals in commerce are screened for teratogenicity under Federal testing guidelines.
Additional courses on specific topics can be found at this link via the Teratology website.
To enroll in these courses, please use this link.