Researchers Gain New Insights into the Mystery of Thalidomide-Caused Birth Defects

Half a century ago, thousands of pregnant women in 46 countries took a drug for morning sickness that would later be discovered to cause severe malformations in developing fetuses. Worldwide, roughly 10,000 affected children nicknamed “thalidomide babies” were born with multiple defects, including the characteristic shortened upper limbs (a condition known as phocomelia, Greek for “seal limbs”), before the drug was discontinued in 1961 after four years on the market.


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