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Call The Midwife Thalidomide

Call The Midwife Thalidomide

How Call the Midwife filmed Thalidomide birth scenes

Call the Midwife is known for tackling sad and serious issues, but season five is focusing on one in particular: Thalidomide.

Thalidomide was a drug first marketed in the late 1950s as a sleeping pill but it was found to help nausea and morning sickness, so the medication was soon prescribed for pregnant women.

During 1960, doctors began to worry about the drug’s side effects, after long-term users reported nerve damage. But soon the extent of the side effects were clear.

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Thalidomide was found to harm the development of unborn babies and cause serious birth defects, especially if taken in the first four to eight weeks of pregnancy. The drug led to the arms or legs of the babies being very short or incompletely formed. Other side effects also included deformed eyes, ears and hearts.

In the late 50s and early 60s over 10,000 children were born with thalidomide-related disabilities worldwide. Around 40% of affected babies are reported to die at or shortly after birth.

Call the Midwife is known for tackling sad and serious issues, but season five is focusing on one in particular: Thalidomide.

“The sense of responsibility with covering something so big and so important as Thalidomide was felt by everybody at all levels in the production,” actor Stephen McGann tells us.

“For the actors, it was very easy for us to see just how much this meant, how much care needed to be taken and everybody has to step up for that,” McGann, who plays Doctor Turner, added. “We still feel that because with the theme of Thalidomide there is still more of the story to be unfolded.”

Thalidomide was a drug first marketed in the late 1950s as a sleeping pill but was prescribed to help nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women. The medication was later found to harm the development of unborn babies and cause serious birth defects, with over 10,000 children born with thalidomide-related disabilities worldwide in the early 1960s.

How did thalidomide affect unborn babies?

Thalidomide was considered to be a safe, risk-free medication, but it was not tested on pregnant women. During 1960, doctors began to worry about the drug’s side effects, after long-term users reported nerve damage. But soon the extent of the side effects were clear.

Thalidomide was found to harm the development of unborn babies and cause serious birth defects, especially if taken in the first four to eight weeks of pregnancy. The drug led to the arms or legs of the babies being very short or incompletely formed. Other side effects also included deformed eyes, ears and hearts.

In the late 50s and early 60s over 10,000 children were born with thalidomide-related disabilities worldwide. Around 40% of affected babies are reported to die at or shortly after birth.

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