An investigation has been launched throughout France due to the case of babies born without hands, arms or forearms, François Bourdillon, the director general of public health in France, said Wednesday.
The first results of the investigation will be known within three months, the director of the health agency told RTL radio.
A preliminary phase of the investigation was initially concentrated in the department of Ain (central-east), where 11 new suspected cases of children born between 2000 and 2014 with malformations of the upper limbs were identified. However, there are already 18 total cases in this department.
"We started in the department of Ain and we will cover the whole of the French territory," said François Bourdillon.
More cases in other regions
Two other groups of children with malformations were observed in the department of Loire-Atlantique (three between 2007 and 2008) and in Brittany (four cases between 2011 and 2013).
Causes can be genetic or caused by toxic substances.
Between 1957 and 1962, authorities believe that thalidomide, a drug used at the time to combat nausea, would have led to the birth of children without arms.
Environmental organizations say pesticides may be the cause of malformations, but there is no scientific evidence.