Sunday, July 29, 2007

An "Awe"-some Birthday!

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

Today is my 50th birthday. I like Kim over at Emergiblog am a 1957 Classic Model. I have always been in awe that so many babies are born "perfect" with the correct number of fingers and toes, eyes and ears in the correct place, etc. My mother had 8 "perfect" babies (one stillborn). A few years ago she and I were on the phone talking about drugs and side effects (don't recall why). I happened to bring up Thalidomide as an example of how a "good" drug used for the wrong thing or at the wrong time (during pregnancy) could have horrible "side effects". She asked me what kind of problem thalidomide caused, as she remembered taking it for morning sickness when pregnant with me. I was stunned, but managed to gently (I hope) tell her about the horrible birth defects it could cause if taken during a narrow window early in pregnancy. Unfortunately this is when morning sickness is often a problem. I asked her how she had come to take thalidomide. Had a doctor prescribed it for her? She told me that she had bought it over the counter at the drug store in Tokyo. My dad was stationed in Tokyo, Japan. They had been there for a few years. My older brother was 3 yr and my older sister (born in Japan in April 1956) was only around 7 months old when she got pregnant with me. My mom told me that she had not seen one of the military doctors because she knew she would not be allowed to return to the States as they were due to be re-stationed in Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri. It was around Thanksgiving, early December 1956. In the 50's women were not allowed to travel such distances while pregnant. So if my mother is correct and she took Thalidomide while pregnant with me, then I am even more in awe that I was a "perfect" baby. Photo credit

The individual type of thalidomide malformation depends on the time of intake. Thalidomide does not produce malformations if only taken before the 34th day after the last menstruation and usually no malformation if taken only after the 50th day.
Within the sensitive period from day 35 to day 49 there is the following sequence:
1. Absence of ears and deafness: 35th - 37th day
2. Absence of arms: 39th - 41st day
3. Phocomelia with 3 fingers: 43rd - 44th day
4. Thumbs with 3 joints: 46th - 48th day.

If thalidomide has been taken throughout the sensitive period, the consequence may be severe defects of ears, arms and legs and of internal malformations, which often led to early death. About 40 per cent of thalidomide victims died before their first birthday.

Check out
Frances Oldham Kelsey: FDA Medical Reviewer Leaves Her Mark on History
By Linda Bren; FDA Consumer Magazine; March-April 2001
The Schizophrenic Career of a "Monster Drug" by William A. Silverman, MD; PEDIATRICS Vol. 110 No. 2 August 2002, pp. 404-406
The Current Status of Thalidomide in the Management of Multiple Myeloma; Glasmacher A, von Lilienfeld-Toal M; Acta Haematology 2005; 114 Suppliment 1:3-7


Dr. Rob said...

Happy 50th! I am 5 behind you... and proud of it!

denverdoc said...

I am five in front of you, and my son EXACTLY 32 behind you to they day! Hope you did something remarkable to mark your achievement!

Amazing story about your mom and her OTC drug use in early pregnancy! And you know most all our mothers smoked back then. Really an achievement that we are all so perfect.

Best birthday wishes!

Amanda said...

Happy belated 50th! My husband turned 49 on the 25th of July and is already in mourning, the silly man. He has like 5 grey hairs on his head, whereas I, who am a mere 37, am over 40% grey and am slowly putting my colorist's kid through private school.