France: cases of malformed babies remain unexplained

Sant & eacute; public France has published & oacute; This Thursday, October 4th a report on worrying cases of born without hands, arms or forearms in three regions between 2009 and 2014. But no explanation has been given ...

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The "transverse agenesis of the upper limbs" concerns 150 births per year in France. Bruce Forster / Getty Images

Public Health France has published this Thursday, October 4 a report on disturbing cases of babies born without hands, arms or forearms in three regions between 2009 and 2014. But no explanation could be highlighted.

The mystery remains whole. Between 2009 and 2017, 14 children were born without hands, arms or forearms in three different regions (seven in Ain, four in Brittany and three in Loire-Atlantique), each time in restricted areas. Is it just a coincidence or the consequences of taking drugs or exposure to pesticides?

" At this stage, we could not identify a common exposure. The field is still very open on one of the reasons that could be at the origin of these malformations. Insofar as we are on rare health events, the probability of finding a common cause is low, "says Anne Gallay, one of the leaders of Public Health France, behind the report made public this Thursday .

This type of malformation, called "transverse agenesis of the upper limbs" represents less than 150 cases per year in France. The proven or suspected causes may be genetic, related to physical constraints or due to toxic substances. Several factors may be involved.

According to Emmanuelle Amar, director of the structure that identifies congenital malformations in the Rhône-Alpes, we must first analyze the environment of mothers: " They have one thing in common, that of living in the countryside. So we have an etiological track that would move toward a physical and geographic environment of mothers in there would be something that would prevent members from forming. It could be a substance, in the air, in the water, a phytosanitary product ... We do not know! "

Public Health France for its part has not recorded since 2014 any new alert on an unusual number of cases of malformations.