National appeal to doctors in skull deformity investigation: Officials check pollution and pesticide link to babies with rare condition

HEALTH officials in Yorkshire who are trying to establish the cause of skull deformities in more than 20 babies, yesterday issued a nationwide appeal for doctors who have treated other cases to come forward.

They want to know if similar clusters are occurring elsewhere and if the condition, known as cranio- synostosis, is becoming more common. A fifth of the Yorkshire cases are thought to be genetic in origin, but a link with pesticides and pollution is also under investigation. Lead contamination has been suggested by some researchers. In Britain there are usually less than 20 cases a year, but 22 babies born over the past 30 months in a small area between York and Selby in North Yorkshire, have been diagnosed with the deformity. Two of the babies have died, one from the condition and the other from complications after corrective surgery.

Dr Jonathan Fear, a consultant in public health medicine at the North Yorkshire Health Authority said last night: 'You do get these things occurring by chance but it is a rare condition and it is a little odd to have so many in one place.'

The authority was alerted to the problem after 17 of the babies were seen by doctors at York District Hospital in a short period; another four were referred to plastic surgeons at St James Hospital, Leeds. Dr Fear and a colleague wrote to The Lancet medical journal last month describing the cluster.

Cranio-synostosis occurs when two or more bones in the skull fuse too early. There are six bones in the skull which 'float' on the brain and expand with it, eventually fusing together. The deformity depends on which bones fuse prematurely. In most cases the problem is largely cosmetic, although in some babies it can be life-threatening.

Jane Durham, 29, from Barlby, has a son Paul who was born with the condition. Mrs Durham, a former nurse, who is exepecting another child in January, said: 'Paul's head was round when he was born and then within a week it began to change shape . . . At first we blamed the water which is very bad in this area but no one will give us a reason . . . hopefully they'll have discovered the cause before our next baby is due. It is very worrying.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A long-established, technology rich ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable