By Dr Janet McCredie AM
Between 1958 and 1962, thousands of babies across the Western world were unaccountably born with a plethora of physical deformities, including short or absent limbs, ears and eyes, holes in the heart, blocked intestines, and/or absence or duplication of other internal organs.
At first glance, longitudinal reduction of limbs was the most obvious feature, but more serious, often lethal defects were hidden in other organs. Vital organs such as the ear, eye, heart, gut, and/or kidney were deformed or completely absent. The perinatal mortality rate of these babies was an alarming 40 percent.
Striking patterns emerged in the geography of this alarming epidemic. West Germany had thousands of deformed babies, while East Germany had none: they simply stopped at the Iron Curtain. Canada had over 150, but the USA had almost none. They stopped at the 49th parallel. Britain had over 400 cases, and the British Commonwealth was afflicted, for example Australia had 46 known cases.