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Dr Neil Vargesson, who ran the research, says no-one could “put their hand on their heart right now and say it did not do this”.

A new study has found that hormone pregnancy tests had the potential to deform embryos in the womb.

The controversial drug Primodos, used by women in the 1960s and 70s, was removed from the market in 1978 after concerns were raised about the drug.

But new research produced by Dr Neil Vargesson from the Institute of Medical Sciences in Aberdeen University is at odds with a recent Government-commissioned report, published three months ago, which suggested there was not enough scientific evidence to demonstrate a causal association between the drug and malformations.

Dr Vargesson’s study, first seen by Sky News last year in its early stages, was published on Tuesday in The Scientific Reports.

It shows that when the drug is applied to zebra fish embryos they suffer a range of deformities, including shortened tails, spine, fin and eye defects.

Fish are often used to screen drugs as their embryos can replicate the reaction of humans. For example, Thalidomide shortens the fins in fish as it does the limbs in humans.

Dr Vargesson also found the drug caused greater damage the earlier in development the embryo is exposed to it, and that higher doses can be lethal.

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