Intended for healthcare professionals

Medicine And The Media

Publish and be damned?

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 30 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:554
  1. Hilary Bower, medical journalist
  1. London

    Highly disputed research claiming to show that damage caused by thalidomide can be passed on to children caused a media storm this month. Hilary Bower asks whether journalists were to blame or whether the research should never have been published in the first place

    Thalidomide—the drug that seared heartbreaking images of children born with deformed limbs into the collective Western psyche in the 1960s—was back in the news with banner headlines recently. What put it there was a press conference convened by the victims' support group to highlight “new” research which claims to show that thalidomide damages DNA and causes its devastating deformities to be passed on to offspring.

    Though neither the claim nor, in fact, the research by Australian scientist Dr William McBride is new—it was …

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