'The Legacy of Thalidomide' - a multidisciplinary Meeting held at the University of York, UK on September 30, 2016

Elizabeth Newbronner, Neil Vargesson, Karl Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Abstract

Background
Between 1957 and 1962 thalidomide was used as a nonaddictive, nonbarbiturate sedative that also was successful in relieving the symptoms of morning sickness in early pregnancy. Infamously, thousands of babies were subsequently born with severe birth defects. The drug is used again, today, to successfully treat leprosy, and tragically, there is a new generation of thalidomide damaged children in Brazil. While the outward damage in babies has been documented, the effects of the damage upon the survivors as they grow up, the lifestyle changes and adaptations required to be made, as well as studies into ageing in survivors, has received little attention and remains understudied.

Methods
A unique multidisciplinary meeting was organized at the University of York bringing together thalidomide survivors, clinicians, scientists, historians, and social scientists to discuss the past, the current and the future implications of thalidomide.

Results
There is still much to learn from thalidomide, from its complex history and ongoing impact on peoples' lives today, to understanding its mechanism/s to aid future drug safety, to help identify new drugs retaining clinical benefit without the risk of causing embryopathy.

Conclusion
For thalidomide survivors, the original impairments caused by the drug are compounded by the consequences of a lifetime of living with a rare disability, and early onset age-related health problems. This has profound implications for their quality of life and need for health and social care services. It is vital that these issues are addressed in research, and in clinical practice if thalidomide survivors are to “age well”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296–299
Number of pages4
JournalBirth Defects Research
Volume109
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Fingerprint

Thalidomide
Survivors
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Morning Sickness
Fetal Diseases
Leprosy
Medical problems
Social Work
Hypnotics and Sedatives
Age of Onset
Brazil
Life Style
Aging of materials
History
Quality of Life
Health
Delivery of Health Care
Safety
Pregnancy
Defects

Keywords

  • thalidomide
  • Thalidomide Society
  • Thalidomide Trust
  • Wellcome Library
  • Global Health History
  • drug safety
  • aging with early onset disability
  • mechanism of action
  • Thalidomide survivors

Cite this

'The Legacy of Thalidomide' - a multidisciplinary Meeting held at the University of York, UK on September 30, 2016. / Newbronner, Elizabeth; Vargesson, Neil; Atkin, Karl .

In: Birth Defects Research, Vol. 109, No. 4, 01.03.2017, p. 296–299.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - AbstractBackgroundBetween 1957 and 1962 thalidomide was used as a nonaddictive, nonbarbiturate sedative that also was successful in relieving the symptoms of morning sickness in early pregnancy. Infamously, thousands of babies were subsequently born with severe birth defects. The drug is used again, today, to successfully treat leprosy, and tragically, there is a new generation of thalidomide damaged children in Brazil. While the outward damage in babies has been documented, the effects of the damage upon the survivors as they grow up, the lifestyle changes and adaptations required to be made, as well as studies into ageing in survivors, has received little attention and remains understudied.Methods A unique multidisciplinary meeting was organized at the University of York bringing together thalidomide survivors, clinicians, scientists, historians, and social scientists to discuss the past, the current and the future implications of thalidomide.ResultsThere is still much to learn from thalidomide, from its complex history and ongoing impact on peoples' lives today, to understanding its mechanism/s to aid future drug safety, to help identify new drugs retaining clinical benefit without the risk of causing embryopathy.ConclusionFor thalidomide survivors, the original impairments caused by the drug are compounded by the consequences of a lifetime of living with a rare disability, and early onset age-related health problems. This has profound implications for their quality of life and need for health and social care services. It is vital that these issues are addressed in research, and in clinical practice if thalidomide survivors are to “age well”.

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