Entries in Birth Defect (2)


Thalidomide Victims Believe an Apology Is Too Little Too Late

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Sometimes saying you are sorry isn't enough for the victims of the drug thalidomide, who feel insulted by an apology from the German company that made the drug used to combat morning sickness in pregnant mothers in the 50's.

It took fifty years for the German pharmaceutical company Gruenenthal, makers of thalidomide - the drug that caused birth defects in thousands of babies worldwide, to apologize.

For Nick Dobrik, a member of the U.K.'s Thalidomide Trust and a victim himself said, “We feel that a sincere genuine apology is one which actually admits wrong doing. The company hasn't done that and has really insulted thalidomiders.”

What the company chief executive did do, at the unveiling of a bronze statue symbolizing a child born without limbs because of thalidomide, was to ask forgiveness for not reaching out sooner, asking those with defects to regard their long silence as a sign of shock.

Gary Skyner, a campaigner and victim himself said, “This is an absolute insult for this fellow, fifty years on, to say that the shock is the reason it took him fifty years to apologize.”

Another insult was CEO Harald Stock's assertion that the drug's possible side effects could not be detected before it was marketed as a cure for morning sickness in expecting moms. That has been widely disputed, and in the opinion of many experts disproved.

Thalidomide, given to pregnant moms as a cure for morning sickness was never sold in the U.S., but millions of tablets were given to doctors during clinical testing programs. The drug was pulled from the worldwide market in 1961.
Due to the drug, more than 10,000 babies had been born with a range of disabilities including shortened arms and legs, blindness, deafness, heart problems and brain damage.   For every thalidomide baby that lived there were ten who died. Today there are between 5,000 to 6,000 sufferers still living with the effects of thalidomide.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Spina Bifida: Babies May Do Better With Prenatal Surgery

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) - A new study suggests children with spina bifida, a sometimes-debilitating birth defect in which the spine fails to close around the spinal cord during the first months of pregnancy, may do better in the long run if they have surgery before they are even born.

Researchers from nearly a dozen centers nationwide compared nearly 200 babies with spina bifida, half of whom underwent surgery in utero, while the other half underwent surgery after birth. They found that after one year, those who had surgery before birth were 30 percent less likely to need follow-up surgeries than infants who had surgery after birth.

"This is a big breakthrough. For the first time we can show a clear cut benefit, treating a non-life-threatening malformation by repairing it before birth," said Dr. Scott Adzick, chief of surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and first author of the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Spina bifida is often detected five to seven months after pregnancy begins. Surgeons can go inside a pregnant woman's uterus and gently stitch up the open spinal cord of the developing fetus. This stops the leaking of spinal fluid and spares a child brain and nerve damage.

Seven out of 10,000 babies in the U.S. are born with spina bifida and often require immediate surgery after birth to avoid complications, according to the Spina Bifida Association.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio