Pregnancy and Thalidomide Education

Topics: Pregnancy, Menstrual cycle, Sexual intercourse Pages: 2 (671 words) Published: December 3, 2009
In the 1960s the drug thalidomide was used by some pregnant women in Europe and Canada to treat morning sickness. Women who took the drug in early pregnancy gave birth to children with severe birth defects such as missing or shortened limbs. More than 10,000 children around the world were born with major malformations, many missing arms and legs, because their mothers had taken the drug during early pregnancy. Mothers who had taken the drug when arms and legs were beginning to form had babies with a widely varying but recognizable pattern of limb deformities. The most well-known pattern, absence of most of the arm with the hands extending flipper-like from the shoulders, is called phocomelia. Another frequent arm malformation called radial aplasia was absence of the thumb and the adjoining bone in the lower arm. Similar limb malformations occurred in the lower extremities. The affected babies almost always had both sides affected and often had both the arms and the legs malformed. In addition to the limbs, the drug caused malformations of the eyes and ears, heart, genitals, kidneys, digestive tract, and nervous system. Thalidomide was recognized as a powerful human teratogen (a drug or other agent that causes abnormal development in the embryo or fetus). Taking even a single dose of thalidomide during early pregnancy may cause major birth defects. At that time, it was not approved in the United States because Dr. Frances Kelsey from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated there was insufficient proof of the drug’s safety in humans. Shortly after the birth defects were observed, thalidomide was banned worldwide In 1998 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved thalidomide for use in treating leprosy symptoms. Studies are also being conducted to determine the effectiveness of thalidomide in treating symptoms associated with AIDS, Behchet disease, lupus, Sjogren syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, macular degeneration, and some...
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