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Thalidomide child, X-ray

Thalidomide child, X-ray

M350/0277

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Thalidomide baby. X-ray of the upper chest and head of a baby with severe skeletal deformities due to its mother taking the drug thalidomide while pregnant. The arms failed to develop properly, and the hands (upper left and right) are borne on stunted limbs, a condition known as phocomelia. Thalidomide was prescribed as a sedative in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After several babies were born with phocomelia, it was found that the thalidomide given to the mothers was a mixture of two mirror images (enantiomers) of the same molecule. One form acted as a sedative and the other as a teratogen (causing abnormalities). Thalidomide was withdrawn in 1961.

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