icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Phantom investigation? France delays report on mystery cases of babies born without arms

Phantom investigation? France delays report on mystery cases of babies born without arms
France's public health agency has postponed the release of a report on an investigation into the abnormal numbers of babies being born without arms in rural regions — a medical mystery which has baffled experts.

Three infants were born with no arms between June and November 2016 within a 30km radius of Vitrolles in the Bouches-du-Rhône region. That followed another cluster of cases near the area of Ain, where eight babies were born with the defect within a 17km radius. Similar cases have also been observed in other regions of rural France.

Phantom investigation? France delays report on mystery cases of babies born without arms

A nationwide investigation into the phenomenon began last October and the government had promised an update by January 31, but that date was suddenly pushed back — and the parents of affected children are becoming impatient and suspicious.

Phantom investigation? France delays report on mystery cases of babies born without arms

In an open letter to public health officials, a group of parents expressed doubts about the ongoing investigation and said their questions have “never had clear answers.” They accused the government of focusing on explanations which have already been dismissed by another public health body which researches cases of malformation.

Santé Publique France, the national health agency, previously conducted an investigation before the latest spate of cases — but that investigation concluded that there had not been an excessive level of incidents in Ain and that no further investigation was needed. Other experts, however, said the number of cases in Ain was 58 times the normal statistical amount.

Remera, the health body which looks into instances of malformation, carried out its own investigation in 2018. As part of it, mothers were interviewed with a “very extensive questionnaire” about their lifestyles to see if there were any similarities between their pregnancies. This led doctors to dismiss genetics, drugs, and alcohol as potential causes for the missing limbs.

Phantom investigation? France delays report on mystery cases of babies born without arms

Emmanuelle Amar, the director of Remera in the south east of France concluded that the “only thing they have in common is that they all live in a very rural area.” Remera therefore dismissed the likelihood of the malformations as being down to chance — as the government agency previously suggested — as “more than infinitesimal.”

Remera believes that harmful pesticides in wide use in rural areas of France are the most likely culprit. The mystery remains unsolved, but the possible link to agriculture is given weight by the fact that around the same time the cases were observed in Ain, several calves and chickens were born with missing limbs in the area. Amar told RT that authorities didn't want to listen to Remera's concerns, however.

Phantom investigation? France delays report on mystery cases of babies born without arms

Aurelie Bingler, the mother of one girl born without her hand, also spoke to RT. “I want to know why she was born like that, because mothers blame themselves. We think it may come from us or that we did something wrong,” she said. Bingler believes, too, that there is probably a link to farming.

We are surrounded by agriculture, fields, so we naturally wonder about the use of pesticides. Why doesn't it happen to people who live in the city? There must be a link to agriculture.

Former French environment minister Corinna Lepage told RT there was probably a “fear of discovering that the causes could endanger a number of economic interests.”

Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won’t tell you.

Dear readers and commenters,

We have implemented a new engine for our comment section. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of you. Unfortunately, the comments made before the change have been lost due to a technical problem. We are working on restoring them, and hoping to see you fill up the comment section with new ones. You should still be able to log in to comment using your social-media profiles, but if you signed up under an RT profile before, you are invited to create a new profile with the new commenting system.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and looking forward to your future comments,

RT Team.

Podcasts