Call for global audit of thalidomide cases

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A global audit of children born to thalidomide victims was urged yesterday to allay fears that birth defects caused by the drug can be passed on.

Dr Nigel Brown, head of the Medical Research Council's Teratology (congenital malformation) Unit in London, said a survey would go a long way to answering the fears of the first generation of parents.

The Thalidomide Action Group UK says there are nine cases where the children born to thalidomide victims have similar deformities to their parents. It also says other cases have been reported in Bolivia, Japan, Germany and Belgium.

Dr Brown says all the available evidence suggests that the defects cannot be passed on, but a controversial Australian doctor claims he has shown how thalidomide can disrupt DNA, the genetic code of inheritance.