Enquiry into birth deformities in France

By Hollie Ewers on 20 November 2018 Public Health Fetal Abnormalities / Birth Defects

The birth in France of some 24 babies born without hands or arms has prompted a nationwide investigation.

It is unclear as yet as to whether the deformities are a statistical anomaly or if external factors, such as medication or pesticides, may be to blame. 

Investigations, previously confined to the few regions where the clusters of cases occurred, will be extended nationwide.

The wider investigation is expected to report its initial conclusions by the end of January and to release a full report by June. 
The cases have prompted media speculation about possible causes of the anomalies. 

In September, the French press reported that two clusters were observed in neighbouring departments of northwest France. Between 2011 and 2013, four cases had been identified in the Morbihan region and three more between 2007 and 2008 in the Loire-Atlantique region.

A separate assessment undertaken in the department of Ain in the Rhône-Alpes region of east-central France uncovered seven similar cases between 2009 and 2014.

Since the cases came to light, they have set off a public dispute between the state health agency Santé publique France (SpF) and Remera, a publicly funded registry that monitors incidences of birth deformities in the region in which Ain is situated.