Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Thalidomide is a prescription drug that was originally used to help morning sickness in pregnant women. It was soon so widely used that it became an over-the-counter drug in Germany. Soon afterward however, at least 7,000 infants were born with defects, such as shortened limbs, or deformed eyes or hearts. Only 40% of those children survived.
Thalidomide was first used in 1957 in West Germany. After finding out that it was very closely related to birth defects in children in 1961, it was taken off the market.
A lot of the mothers who had babies that were affected by thalidomide did not want their babies after they saw what the looked like. Some even said they wanted to throw their babies into the garbage.
Thalidomide survivors don’t let their defects hinder them at all. One woman who was born without arms worked as a beautician. She used her feet to cut hair and apply makeup.
In 2012, the German inventor of thalidomide said an apology to the survivors of thalidomide, but the survivors were not impressed. They said it came way too late and it didn’t sound like a real apology.
Today Thalidomide is used for certain kinds of cancers and a type of leprosy.