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Mothers File Suit, Contending Implants Harmed Children - Daily Herald - January 29, 1993

Mothers File Suit, Contending Implants Harmed Children By: Dan Rozek
Daily Herald
January 29, 1993

Silicone leaking from breast implants not only harmed women who received the devices but also seeped into their wombs or their breast milk to cause health problems in their children, a ground-breaking lawsuit filed in Cook County alleges.

The suit, filed this week on behalf of 93 Chicago-area women and their spouses, apparently is the first to contend that ill effects caused by leaking silicone and other compounds from implants extend beyond the women who received the implants, attorneys and others say.

"If it (silicone) is in the children, you're going to see the same effects on children as on the women with implants," said attorney Kenneth Moll, who filed the suit against 35 companies that made implants or their components.

The women who filed the suit claim they have suffered a variety of ailments linked to leaking implants, including auto-immune and connective tissue diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, rashes, lumps and burning skin.

And Moll contends the suit will link a variety of health problems discovered in several of the women's children - including tuberculosis, learning disabilities, hives and rashes - to the breast implants.

Some miscarriages suffered by several women with the implants also are tied to leaking implants, Moll said.

The suit alleges that silicone and polyurethane leaked from implants, causing a variety of illnesses and health problems in the women. Some material also migrated into the women's breast milk or into their wombs, causing health problems for some of their children, the suit says.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year severely restricted the use of silicone gel implants, saying more studies were needed to determine the safety of the devices. That action came after the agency received complaints from women who said they suffered ill effects from the implants.

Since then, thousands of women from across the country have filed lawsuits against implant manufacturers seeking damages.

Although there have been reports of silicone and polyurethane reaching children through their mothers, there is no solid scientific evidence backing those claims, the FDA and some medical groups say.

"At this point, there is no scientific evidence of harm, but study is needed to settle the issue," an FDA statement says.

An Arlington Heights-based association of plastic surgeons said in a statement that "no connection" has been proven between silicone gel breast implants and illnesses in either women or their children.

"Children are exposed to silicone frequently, through many over-the-counter medications as well as immunizations," Dr. James Wells, public education chairman of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, said in a 1992 statement. "Silicone exists in drinking water and in myriad compounds in our environment."

But several women who filed suit say they are concerned silicone exposure has caused a variety of ailments in their children or may cause future health problems.

"I'm worried about them," a Lake County woman involved in the suit, said of two daughters she has delivered and nursed since receiving implants. "I'm really angry about it possibly affecting them."

Women from a number of suburbs, including Elk Grove Village, Wheeling, Palantine, Libertyville, Gurnee, Naperville and Glendale Heights, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The suit contends manufacturers were negligent because they knew the devices were prone to leakage and rupture but failed to warn women receiving the implants of the risks they faced.

Moll acknowledged proving the allegations involving the children of implant users will be the most difficult part of the suit - at least partly because he said research has yet to document all of the ill effects caused by silicone and polyurethane poisoning.

"Science has yet to catch up with this disease," he said.

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