Thalidomide embryopathy

Thalidomide embryopathy refers to a syndrome resulting from in utero exposure to thalidomide, and is characterized by multiple fetal anomalies. Fetal exposure to thalidomide occurred primarily from 1957 to 1961, when it was used as a treatment for nausea in pregnant women. 


Exposure to thalidomide in the first trimester carries a 10-50% risk of embryopathy. Over 10,000 children with severe birth defects due to thalidomide exposure were born between 1957 and 1961 worldwide. 

Clinicopathological spectrum

Thalidomide exposure notably affects limb development, but can affect a wide range of systems. These include:

Share article

Article information

rID: 15579
System: Obstetrics
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • In utero thalidomide exposure
  • Thalidomide exposure

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Subtraction image
    Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.