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France probes reports of babies born without arms

Reuters PARIS (Reuters) — France has launched a nationwide investigation into why some two dozen babies have been born without hands or arms in a handful of rural areas since 2000 after several new cases were reported this week, the health minister said on Wednesday.

A separate investigation has also been opened into reports that calves and possibly chickens have been born without limbs in the same three heavily agricultural areas, an official told Reuters.

Public health agency Sante Publique France said it had identified 11 additional cases of babies born with limb defects between 2000 and 2014 in the rural Ain department of eastern France, near the Swiss border, where seven cases were already reported in 2009-14.

There have also been malformed births in two departments in western France: four in the Morbihan, Brittany area between 2011 to 2013, and three in neighboring Loire-Atlantique in 2007 and 2008. Ain and Morbihan are several hundred kilometers apart.

The reports have raised alarm among the French public that some kind of toxin in food, water or air could be responsible.

“I want to know, I think all of France wants to know,” Health Minister Agnes Buzyn told BFM TV. “It could be an environmental factor. Maybe it is due to what these women ate, drank or breathed in.”

An initial inquiry in early October found the incidence of limb defects in the affected regions to be no greater than elsewhere in the country, but now the probe has been widened.Speech

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