Expectant mothers consume more medicines than ever before, but Celeste McGovern reports on new science revealing the disturbing under-reported baby dangers of common pharmaceuticals.
On Christmas day, 1956, in Stolberg, Germany, a baby girl was born with no ears. Her father was a chemist at the company Chemie Grünenthal, and his wife had taken samples of the company’s sedative drug, Distaval, which were handed out to employees. Distaval—containing the active ingredient thalidomide—was sold over-the-counter as a remedy for a variety of ailments, including morning sickness. No one realized at the time that this baby would be the first of thousands to suffer tragic deformities and disabilities from the drug.
It would be nearly six years before the scope of thalidomide’s damage began to be realized, during which time doctors and public health officials extolled its safety and efficacy. Meanwhile, an estimated 10,000 babies were born with defects, including missing limbs and shortened arms with flipper-like hands, ear and eye deformities causing blindness and deafness, brain damage, heart defects and more. Countless thousands more women miscarried, those deaths unreported as being caused by the drug, which had been widely distributed in 46 countries.
It would take another 50 years for the drug company Grünenthal to apologize for putting its drug on the market and causing the most heartbreaking drug debacle in modern history.
The thalidomide story is one of the blackest pages in the history of modern pharmaceutical-driven medicine. Though it supposedly changed the way pregnant women and doctors view potential drug dangers—and underscored the tremendous vulnerability of unborn babies to toxins, as their systems are developing and growing so rapidly—it is a fading memory for today’s generation of mothers.
They have heard about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and street drugs, but are more trusting than ever of pharmaceutical concoctions sanctioned by their doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites a 2011 study using US data from 1976-2008, which found that about 90 percent of women take at least one medication during pregnancy and about 70 percent take at least one prescription medication.
Over the last 30 years, the CDC reports, use of prescription medications during the first trimester of pregnancy has increased more than 60 per cent. “First-trimester use of four or more medications has nearly tripled and use of four or more medications anytime during pregnancy has more than doubled.”1
Add to that the fact that mothers today are offered at least two vaccines during pregnancy, while previous generations of mothers had none. No matter how they are marketed, these are pharmaceuticals containing foreign chemical ingredients that act on both the mother’s immune system and the baby’s developing body in profound and poorly understood ways.
Even the nightmare drug thalidomide never really went away: it is still produced by the millions of tablets every year in a number of countries including Brazil, where it is used to treat leprosy. Despite the warnings attached to it, a recent study identified 100 Brazilian babies born between 2005 and 2010 with the hallmark missing limbs and other rare and severe deformities of the drug, which is being taken by pregnant Brazilian women by accident or without knowledge of its dangers.2 New thalidomide analogs that are rapidly being developed are posing additional concerns, according to a 2017 review of the problem.3
Thalidomide’s profound effects on anatomical development are all too obvious. In the past few years, however, a number of studies have found subtle but alarming effects of more commonly used drugs including over-the-counter painkillers and vaccines, which raise troubling questions about current protocols and popular public health advice for pregnant women.
Some women will go to great lengths to eat healthily and avoid toxins like alcohol, pesticides and heavy metals that are known to impact their rapidly developing baby’s growth and brain health. Yet few are aware that the vaccines recommended to them by pharmaceutical companies and public health officials contain numerous documented hazardous ingredients, and that studies on the impact of these vaccines on their baby’s health rarely exceed a few months, if not weeks or days…..