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George F Winter

Freelance writer; Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science

Vaccines, pregnancy and ethics

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the drug thalidomide was taken by pregnant women to counteract morning sickness —with the result that around 10 000 babies globally were born with limb deformities


Anencephaly is an untreatable and terminal neural tube defect in which most of a fetus' brain, skull and scalp is missing It affects approximately 1 in 1000 pregnancies globally (Cook et al, 2008) and...

New routes to parenthood

Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, an application for a gender recognition certificate must be granted if a Gender Recognition Panel decides that the applicant has—or has had—gender dysphoria; has...

Guilt, forgiveness and medical error

The writer Ambrose Bierce said that guilt is felt by one who has committed an indiscretion but failed to cover his tracks, while forgiveness aims to throw an offender off his guard and catch him...

Vegans, vegetarians and pregnancy

In December 2018, the prosperous vegan parents of a toddler, whose diet-related vitamin D deficiency caused her to develop rickets, were arrested in Australia (Chapman, 2018) This follows a UK case in...

Celebrity pregnancy

In 1977, Illich et al identified the rise of so-called professionals, such as lifestyle counsellors and food fad experts, who fed on consumers' ‘splintered needs and fractured self-confidence’ (Illich...

Reproductive tourism

Although travelling abroad for the sake of one's health is centuries old—Lourdes, for instance, or ‘taking the waters’ in spas—the concept of so-called ‘medical tourism’ has increased in popularity in...

Breastfeeding: Ethics and evidence

In 1959, the chemist and novelist Charles Percy Snow delivered the Rede Lecture at the University of Cambridge Entitled ‘The Two Cultures’, he highlighted mutual incomprehension between science and...

Donor milk: Science and sensitivity

American humourist Oliver Herford once described charity as ‘the sterilised milk of human kindness’ Yet for more than a century the milk of human kindness has—quite literally—been used for charitable...

Parenthood: Uncharted territory?

It may have taken millions of years for humans to evolve, but when it comes to attitudes, evolution can be rapid

Vaccines and the fetus

The vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which previously banned abortion, righted a long-standing wrong The vote also vindicated the principles of autonomy and justice,...

Artificial gametes

First coined by the French philosopher Antoine Cournot, ‘the end of history’ is a phrase that was later popularised in the 1990s by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama

Handwashing and psychology

The acronym KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is attributed to the American aeronautical engineer Kelly Johnson


Describing her reaction to a film on childbirth that was shown at her school, Dame Helen Mirren once commented: ‘I swear it traumatised me to this day I haven't had children and now I can't look at...

Prenatal surgery

The first report of a prenatal intervention was made in 1963, when a life-saving intrauterine blood transfusion was undertaken on a fetus with severe haemolytic disease at 32 weeks gestation (Liley,...

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