Drug 'not to blame' for baby's deformity: Doctors say Thalidomide could not be passed on

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The Independent Online
DEFORMITIES in a baby girl whose father was a 'Thalidomide baby' are unlikely to have been caused by the drug, medical experts said last night.

They suggested the father was wrongly diagnosed and his limb abnormalities were caused by an inherited gene defect, or that it was coincidence.

It was reported yesterday that Georgina Harrison, from Crowland, Lincolnshire, has been born with abnormalities of her hands and feet. Her father, Glen, now in his 30s, was one of the 450 British babies who were born with abnormalities after their mothers took Thalidomide during pregnancy and who later received compensation.

Tests are being carried out on the baby, who is 10 days old, and her father. Mr Harrison and his wife, Debbie, have two normal sons aged six and three.

Robert Wright, the family's solicitor, said: 'Georgina was born with similar deformities to her father on 26 July and is now at home. The deformities are to her hands and feet, but she's a beautiful baby.'

He said the investigation would try to find out if there was any way she could have inherited defective genes from her father.

Robert Winston, Professor of Fertility Studies at the Hammersmith Hospital, west London, said they knew of no drug that could cause the gene defect necessary for the baby to be to affected. 'Such a finding would be remarkable,' he said.

'The first thing I would say is that the father may have been wrongly diagnosed. Limb deformaties are rare, but not that rare.'

Martin Bobrow, geneticist and Professor of Paediatric Research at Guy's Hospital, London, said that Thalidomide damaged the limb buds of a foetus and if it was possible for it to affect the germ cells (cells which become sperm) then other deformities would be likely to have arisen in the father, including sterility.

'There are three options: that the mother took an agent during her pregnancy that affected her baby - but this would be most unlikely in this family. It could be a coincidence. Or the father was wrongly diagnosed and his deformity was not caused by Thalidomide but by an inherited gene defect which he has passed on.

'Many women who took Thalidomide had normal babies and there are several other types of deformity that are very similar.' Between 1958 and 1963, 10,000 babies were born affected by the drug which their mothers took to treat nausea in pregnancy.