France launches nationwide probe into baby arm birth defects

France has launched a nationwide probe into incidents of babies being born with either missing or malformed arms after abnormal rates of birth defects in several regions have sparked a public health scare.

Francois Bourdillon, head of the Public Health France agency, confirmed for the first time that a national investigation was “underway” and the results would be known in about three months.

“Nothing is being hidden from you,” he assured listeners to RTL radio.

Confidence in the state’s handling of the issue took a blow on Monday night when health authorities reported an additional 11 cases in the Ain area near the Swiss border between 2000 and 2014 which had not previously been made public.

A relatively small number of cases have been detected so far in total — about 25 over the past 15 years in the regions of Brittany, Loire-Atlantique and Ain — but the defects have caused public alarm and have been widely reported by the French media.

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