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Artificial bootees, Roehampton, England, 1965-1975

A child affected by the drug Thalidomide used these boots. Phocomelia is a condition where the long bones in the limbs fail to develop. This leaves the hands or feet attached close to the body. Thalidomide was given to pregnant women in the late 1950s and early 1960s to ease morning sickness and aid sleep. The drug caused thousands of serious birth defects worldwide. Several hundred occurred in the UK. Babies were born with under-developed or missing limbs. The drug was withdrawn in 1962. These bootees protected the exposed feet when artificial lower limbs were not worn. The child could move in or outside the house. Made by prosthetic limb manufacturer Hanger, these stout leather bootees are surprising light despite looking bulky.

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Glossary: orthopaedics

The branch of medicine concerned with the preservation and restoration of the muscular and skeletal systems in the body.

Glossary: thalidomide

No description.

Glossary: bootees

No description.