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Monday, 2 October, 2000, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
'Second generation' Thalidomide claims
Thalidomide child
Hundreds of children were born with defects
A group representing victims of the 1970s Thalidomide scandal says it has evidence that deformities can be passed on to their children.

But their claims have been greeted with some scepticism by another Thalidomide charity.

There are just over 400 people in the UK who were born with defects including shortened or missing limbs.

The defects were caused when their mothers took the drug Thalidomide during pregnancy to ease morning sickness.

The Diageo group, which bought responsibility for Thalidomide compensation along with the Guinness group, has already provided a multi-million pound trust fund for victims.

This was recently increased following evidence that it would not cover the living expenses of those affected in this country.

More money call

However, the claims that the defects can be passed on, if proven, would add strength to Thalidomide UK's repeated calls for the size of the fund to be boosted.

Freddie Astbury, who chairs the pressure group, said: "The main thing we are pushing for is for the likes of Guinness to fund research."

Thalidomide patient Nick Holness and his 15-year-old daughter Rebecca are being presented by the group as evidence of "second generation" Thalidomide link.

Ms Astbury said: "Rebecca was born with small arms and three fingers on the end of each hand - typical Thalidomide damage."

Thalidomide UK says that tests at a top London hospital have ruled out the possibility that the deformity was the result of some unrelated genetic disorder.

It says that there are 10 cases it knows in which second generation deformities have emerged.

However, Vivien Kerr, co-ordinator for the UK Thalidomide Society, said that she had yet to be convinced that it was possible for the drug's effects to be felt in the children of original victims.

She said: "I have not seen this latest research, but as far as I know, there isn't anything which shows that problems caused by Thalidomide can be passed on in this way."

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