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Sunday Express, 1997

LONDON: An investigation in Britain into the dangers of tranquillisers has uncovered a generation of children suffering from severe physical, mental and psychological problems, all of them born to women prescribed the drugs while they were pregnant.

The Sunday Telegraph has discovered evidence of children born with cleft palates, shrunken heads and wasted bodies. All are suffering from dyslexia or dyspraxia (severe clumsiness). Most also had drug withdrawal symptoms at birth.

In every instance their mothers were taking benzodiazepines, a group of tranquillisers, before and during pregnancy.

Yet despite medical literature warning of concerns over the drugs being taken by pregnant women or women of child-bearing age, dating back to the early 1970s, the mothers claim they were never told their babies could be harmed.

It was only when the mothers tried and failed to take action against drug companies for their own addiction to the benzodiazepines that they realised that a second generation might have been born suffering from the ill-effects.

The physical problems were obvious from birth, but many of the mental and psychological problems are only now emerging as the children reach their late teens.

The tranquillisers were first marketed in 1960 and, at their peak, 15% of women in Britain were prescribed benzodiazepines. It is estimated that there are now 1.25 million people still taking the drugs around the nation most of them women.

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