Healthy Living

20 Biggest Health Scandals in Recent History

20 Biggest Health Scandals in Recent History

1. Pregnant women took thalidomide to ease nausea. Instead, it caused birth defects

This scandal began when women in the 1950s began to take thalidomide to cure nausea during pregnancy. For many years, professionals were uncertain as to what was causing the birth defects. However, sadly they found that thalidomide is capable of inhibiting the development of new blood vessels.

Unfortunately, women tended to take the drug approximately five to nine weeks into their pregnancy, when nausea is especially common. However, this is the same time that the limbs of the babies form and develop, which often led to stunted and malformed limbs. Neil Vargesson led research into the impact of thalidomide, and states, that the five to nine week window "is crucial, as that is when the limbs of babies are still forming... The blood vessels involved in this process, at this stage of pregnancy, are still at an immature stage when they rapidly change and expand to accommodate the outgrowing limb."

Researchers had trouble studying the effects of thalidomide for many years, largely due to its necessity to be metabolically activated in the liver. During this decomposition, 100 different compounds are formed. Therefore, scientists were unaware of whether the culprit of the deformities was one of these compounds, or a specific combination of any number of them. However, eventually they were able to separate thalidomide's metabolites to where they found CPS49, a compound capable of causing such defects, and hinders new blood vessel growth.

In 1961, thalidomide was finally removed from the market. However, this was only after 10,000 children were impacted.

Water Pollution? Food contamination? Disease outbreaks? The list of scandals only goes on. Read on to learn more about the most troubling health scandals in recent history.