Thalidomide may be a mutagen

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6944.1635b (Published 18 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1635
  1. W G McBride,
  2. A P Read
  1. Foundation 41, 211 Bourke St, East Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia University of Manchester, St Mary's Hospital, Manchester M13 0JH.

    EDITOR, - The birth of two malformed children in England raises the question whether thalidomide, (alpha)-phthalimidoglutarimide, is a human mutagen as well as a potent teratogen. The fathers of both children are thalidomide victims.

    Case 1

    In July last year a girl was born in Peterborough with no thumbs and only two digits on both hands. She has severe malformations of both legs, and the left leg is much shorter than the right. Both feet taper to one toe, neither of which has nails. Her father was born in 1960 with malformations of both hands and both legs. He was treated at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, and his legs were amputated below the knee because of the severe malformations of both feet. He was assessed by the Thalidomide Victims' Compensation Panel and was awarded substantial damages and an annual pension for his severe disabilities. His mother, who is now dead, said that she had taken six to eight thalidomide tablets.

    The affected child has two siblings, both boys, who are normal. Her mother was well during the pregnancy, had no bleeding in the early weeks of pregnancy, and took no …

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