Gary Burghoff - Dysmelia

Dysmelia

Burghoff's left hand is withered and misshapen with the fingers being very short—no cause is known for it, though it is presumed to be a birth defect known as a localized dysmelia. In M*A*S*H, he is often seen carrying a clipboard or other object to conceal the defect, though there are scenes where it can be seen very well, especially in the pilot episode of M*A*S*H*.

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Thalidomide - History - Birth Defects Crisis
... It took some time before the increase in dysmelia at the end of the 1950s was connected with thalidomide ... a relationship between nuclear weapons testing and cases of dysmelia in children ... For statistical reasons, the main data series used to research dysmelia cases started by chance at the same time as the approval date for thalidomide ...
Dysmelia - Causes
... Dysmelia can be caused by inheritance of abnormal genes, e.g ... polydactyly, ectrodactyly or brachydactyly, symptoms of deformed limbs then often occur in combination with other symptoms (syndromes) external causes during pregnancy (thus not inherited), e.g ...