In the hospital of St. Mary's in Gelsenkirchen (Germany), from June to early September of this year, three children were born with one-sided deformities of the hand: all children have normal forearms, but two have undeveloped palms and fingers of the left hand, and the third has the right hands, CNN reported.
“In two of the affected children, the left hand was deformed -- they had a normal forearm, but the palms and fingers were undeveloped. In another child, the right hand was affected -- here, too, the hand and fingers were undeveloped, despite a normal forearm,” the hospital said in a statement.
The hospital said there were no "ethnic, cultural or social similarities" between the affected families that could explain the deformities, and it noted that all lived within the local area.
"We have not seen deformities of this kind for many years. Multiple occurrences could be a random burst. However, we believe that the brief period during which we have seen these three cases is striking," the hospital said.
According to the hospital, statistically, between 1% and 2% of all babies are born with a deformity.
Sonja Liggett-Igelmund, a midwife based in the western German city of Cologne, has warned that many more babies may have been born with the same condition.
“To me, it sounded like something much bigger,” she said. “One midwife came across one case in her whole career. Three in three months is not normal.”
The health ministry for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia told CNN that it takes reports of deformities in children "very seriously" and intends to contact all medical centers in the state to determine whether similar deformities had been recorded.