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Girl, 8, sues for foetal injury
February 16, 1997
by Victoria Macdonald,
AN EIGHT-year-old girl is preparing to sue for damages, allegedly caused in the womb after her mother was prescribed tranquillisers while pregnant.
In what is thought to be the first case of its kind, legal action is being prepared on behalf of Georgina Thrower, who is severely mentally and physically handicapped. It will be claimed that Georgina was harmed in utero after her mother Claire was given benzodiazepines - a form of tranquilliser - to take three times a day for the last six weeks of her pregnancy.
The action would be against a health authority as the employer of the consultant who prescribed the tranquilliser to Mrs Thrower.
The case is certain to further the controversy surrounding the possible effects of benzodiazepines on the unborn child. In an earlier investigation The Telegraph uncovered evidence of a generation of children suffering from severe physical, mental and psychological problems - all of them born to women prescribed the drug while pregnant.
Mrs Thrower, of Burwell in Cambridgeshire, has instructed a solicitor on her daughter's behalf, after spending much of the past eight years gathering research on alleged links between benzodiazepines and birth defects.
Georgina's condition is described as "globally developmentally delayed". She cannot walk unaided, she has never spoken, her muscles are so weak they will not support her, and her spine is curved. She has the mental and physical capacity of a two-year-old and has been diagnosed as epileptic.
Intensive medical investigations at Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children in London and Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge have found no genetic reason for her condition. However, none of the doctors has supported Mrs Thrower's assertion that her daughter's condition is a result of the tranquilliser.
But Mrs Thrower's investigations have revealed documents dating as far back as 1969 discussing the adverse effects of benzodiazepines during pregnancy.
Mrs Thrower was prescribed the drug after doctors failed to find the cause of intense stomach pains she was suffering during the pregnancy. She claims that she specifically told the doctor that she did not want to be given Valium, a brand of benzodiazepine, and only later discovered that she had been given the generic form.
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