The practice of sedating troublesome teenagers in care homes was today being linked to birth defects after ten women came forward to complain that their children had been born damaged.
As teenagers at the Church of England-run Kendall House in Gravesend, Kent, the ten were routinely restrained with huge doses of tranquillisers and other drugs.
Sedating children was allegedly commonplace in care homes during the 1970s and 1980s, although the levels of drugging at Kendall House,a home for girls with problems, appear to have been unusual.
Now fears are surfacing that the drugging may have impaired the girls' chances of having healthy babies. The alarm was raised by Teresa Cooper, who left the home in 1984 at 16, and has since written Trust No One - a book about her experiences.
Ms Cooper's three children all have birth defects. Her eldest son was born with respiratory difficulties, her second son is blind and has learning difficulties, and her daughter was born with a cleft palate and a short lower jaw.
Files from Kendall House show that she was given medication at least 1,248 times over a 32-month period, including anti-psychotic drugs intended for schizophrenics, drugs to counter side-effects, sedatives and anti-depressants, the BBC reported today. The dosages were high - she was given up to 10 times the current recommended dose of Valium.