Birth defects are seen in about 1 of 33 infants within the first year of life and are the second most common cause of infant mortality. The cause of most birth defects remains unknown, but those caused by maternal exposure to drugs (including medications), viruses and environmental chemicals can be preventable.
Information on prenatal risk factors associated with maternal exposures and infections is available from a number of sources, but access to an authoritative source remains a challenge. This is particularly important because timely access to high-quality information reduces prolonged harmful exposures and prevents birth defects.
To improve maternal-fetal health outcomes, public health officials have a critical role in supporting health care providers in counseling and caring for pregnant women by providing them with evidence-based information and educational resources. TERIS is a specialty electronic database, located at the University of Washington, which contains information on the teratogenic risk of over 1,700 medications and other environmental exposures and infections. By fostering a systematic approach to risk assessment and risk management, TERIS database improves access to available research and provides a broader understanding of the effects of agent exposures on the developing embryo, fetus and child. Each agent in the database has an expert summary and risk rating based on a thorough review of the published clinical and experimental literature.
Public health officials can provide TERIS to empower and educate health care providers and their patients on the risks of medications and other environmental agents during pregnancy. TERIS can be distributed to clinics and medical centers that care for pregnant women. Access to TERIS is particularly important for practitioners and counselors who work in underserved or rural areas where immediate access to specialty information may be lacking.
TERIS is unique in that it is governed by an Advisory Board composed of accomplished experts from the fields of medicine, epidemiology and genetics. The Advisory Board approves all clinical summaries before they are posted to the database and generates teratogenic risk ratings for individual compounds through consensus. Please see "About Us" for more information on the Advisory Board and staff.
About our team
All agents are assigned a teratogenic risk rating by the TERIS Advisory Board. Each risk rating requires a consensus decision from the board. The TERIS Advisory Board is composed of subject-matter experts in teratology from the fields of medicine, public health, genetics and epidemiology.
Currently, there are more than 1,750 agents available on TERIS, including 200 of the most frequently prescribed drugs. In addition, TERIS provides an updated version of Shepard’s Catalog of Teratogenic Agents, which provides information on over 3,700 agents. Both systems are available online.