Thalidomide is a drug that was introduced on to the market on October 1, 1957 in West Germany. It was discovered by accident in 1954 by chemists in Germany who were trying to produce an anti-histamine.
The drug they manufactured did not work as an anti-histamine, but it was found to be an effective tranquilliser with no harmful side effects.
Demand for the drug rose and it was used to treat many anxiety conditions, including morning sickness and insomnia in pregnant women.
Unfortunately what was not known at the time was that when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, Thalidomide prevented the proper growth of the foetus resulting in horrific birth defects in thousands of children around the world.
These children were born in the late 1950's and early 1960's and became known as "Thalidomide babies".
Today with many of the origional "Thalidomide babies" leading " normal " lives and becoming parents themselves, the spectre of second generation "Thalidomide babies" is rapidly raising its profile