Although the mammalian embryo is well protected in the uterus, environmental chemicals, drugs, and maternal nutritional imbalances can interfere with regulatory pathways directing placental and embryonic development early in gestation. Embryonic cells are most susceptible to environmental influences during cellular specification and differentiation stages. Because biochemical differentiation precedes morphological outcome often by days, the period of susceptibility to environmental chemicals expectedly precedes visible morphogenic effects. The cellular mechanisms by which drugs and other environmental factors disrupt embryonic development and induce cardiac abnormalities have remained undefined. © 2013 .
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