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Birth defects found in care girls' babies

PUBLISHED: 18:12 08 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:36 23 August 2010

TEN girls who were heavily sedated at a care home during the 1970s and 1980s have given birth to children with birth defects, an investigation has found. Radio 4 s Today programme claim the teenagers from across north Kent, who stayed at Kendall House in

TEN girls who were heavily sedated at a care home during the 1970s and 1980s have given birth to children with birth defects, an investigation has found.

Radio 4's Today programme claim the teenagers from across north Kent, who stayed at Kendall House in Pelham Road, Gravesend, were restrained with large doses of tranquilisers and other sedatives.

The investigation, which was broadcast on Tuesday has raised fears that hundreds of other girls living in care homes across the country that were heavily sedated could be at risk of having children with birth defects.

Kendall House, which closed in 1986, was run by the Church of England.

In a statement, the Diocese of Rochester said it was unable to discuss individual circumstances for legal reasons but would co-operate with any future inquiry.

The statement said: "If the police, social services or appropriate legal body initiates an investigation, the Diocese will co-operate fully with them.

"It would be inappropriate for the Diocese to initiate any internal inquiries since we are not qualified to do this.

"In any event, it would be essential for any investigation to be conducted both professionally and impartially."

A former resident of Kendall House, Teresa Cooper, who now lives in Essex, has had three children with 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.

She left the home in 1984 aged 16, was given medication at least 1,248 times over a 32 month period. These included three major tranquillisers, drugs to counter side-effects and anti-depressants, including up to 10 times the current recommended dose of Valium.

Nine other former residents of Kendall House, who all underwent similar drugging, have also gone on to have children with a range of birth defects, including brain tumours, learning difficulties and cleft palate, the BBC reported.

Are you a former resident of Kendall House? Contact the news desk on 020 8269 7015.

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