"Child of Non-disjunction." (see related A) Josef Warkany (known as The father of Medical Teratology ) (1902 - 1992 )|
An individual with Down Syndrome - probably the result of the effects of Trisomy 21 (an extra or third chromosome 21). The open mouth and protruding tongue plus the epicanthic folds obvious features characteristic of the condition.
Josef Warkany is known as the main pioneer of Medical Teratology. Trained as a pediatrician, he became a pioneer in pediatric endocrinology and student of child growth and development. One of his main discoveries was that mercury containing teething powders were the cause of Acrodynia, a disease that his work eliminate (no cases are known after 1970s).. His discovery was branded as "madness" by corporations selling such products. Warkany also showed that maternal lack of micro-nutrients caused "birth defects" (the correct expression is "congenital malformations"). Today we know that lack of folates (a vitamin B) is a cause of spina bifida and today, in the US, most foods derived from cereals are fortified with folic acid. Further, all women who may get pregnant shoud take extra folic acid supplements. Only in recent decades, medications are tested to see of they are safe for the unborn. The work of Warkany has left a deep, permanent and worldwide imprint. He created the Teratology Society which was cloned as the Japanese Teratology and European Teratology Societies whose task is to conduct scientific studies of agents that cause "birth defects", including medications, radiation and pollutants. In short, until Warknay, "birth defects" were seen as "genetic defects" and by extension, inherited from the mother or father, a stigma that led to many tragedies, including forced sterilizations in the US and other "advanced" countries. Worse, cost-“effective” policy makers of Nazi Germany engaged in "euthanasia" of the "abnormal". The legacy of Warkany can be summarized in his declaration - "The price of civilization is to sustain the "imperfect" ... and ... "Societies should strive to insure that every child born is free from abnormalities we know how to prevent ...:"
Compiled by W. Wertelecki, M.D.