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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
'Don't blame parents for baby's blindness'
Jordan
Jordan's lifestyle has been called into question
A leading doctor has hit out at a media debate on whether glamour model Jordan was partly to blame for the blindness of her newborn son.

It had been suggested that Jordan's failure to give up alcohol during her pregnancy may in some way be linked to her son Harvey's condition.

But Dr Mehul Dattani said such coverage was almost certainly inaccurate - and would cause a lot of misery not just for Jordan, but for other parents whose children had the same condition.


Reports of this kind cause a lot of grief to families who have children with this condition

Dr Mehul Dattani
However, researchers at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital have investigated the condition, called septo-optic dysplasia.

They have concluded that it is highly likely to be caused by genetic, rather than environmental factors such as alcohol and drugs.

The Great Ormond Street team have identified a gene called HESXI found in a few cases of SOD. They believe it is likely that other, as yet unidentified genes may also be connnected to the condition.

Their work has also shown that if an embryo is to develop SOD, it will do so during only in a short period of its gestation, lasting no longer than six weeks.

Poor growth

SOD is a highly variable condition. Symptoms can include varying degrees of blindness, poor growth and abnormal sleep patterns.

It is linked to the abnormal development of the optic nerve, and may also be associated with developmental problems with the front part of the brain, and the pituitary gland.

Dr Dattani said: "There is no hard evidence to suggest that alcohol and drugs is the cause of blindness or that the condition is commoner in younger mothers. It would therefore be rash at this stage to link such factors together.

"Reports of this kind cause a lot of grief to families who have children with this condition, with people pointing the finger and saying maybe its down to drugs and alcohol.

"The research that we are currently conducting into the role of genes in causing this disorder should enable us to develop a better understanding of the clinical causes behind this extremely rare condition in the near future."

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02 Aug 02 | Newsmakers
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