Sedation link to birth defects

Sedation in care homes increasing risk of birth defects


Hundreds of girls heavily sedated in UK care homes during the 1970s and 1980s may be at risk of having children with birth defects. BBC Radio 4 has reported 10 ex-residents of a children's home run by the Church of England in Gravesend, Kent, have had children with a birth defect. Each were given massive doses of tranquilisers and other drugs while being restrained as teenagers. The Diocese of Rochester has confirmed it will co-operate with any future inquiry.

The Kendall House home in Gravesend was run by the Church of England in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s but the site is no longer a children's home. In a statement issued through the Church of England, the diocese said it was unable to discuss individual circumstances for legal reasons. However, if the police, social services or appropriate legal body initiates an investigation, the diocese will co-operate fully with them.

Files from the time show that girls at Kendall House were given massive doses of a number of drugs for long periods of time. One former resident, Teresa Cooper, has had three children, all with birth defects, since leaving the home in 1984 at the age of 16. Her eldest son was born with respiratory problems, her second born blind with learning difficulties, and her daughter was born with a cleft palate and a short lower jaw. Files show Ms Cooper was given medication at least 1,248 times, over a 32-month period, including three major tranquilisers, drugs to counter side-effects and anti-depressants. She was given up to 10 times the current recommended dose of the tranquilliser Valium.

Nine other former residents of Kendall House, who were all similarly drugged, have also gone on to have children with a range of birth defects, including brain tumours, learning difficulties and cleft palate.