When Samuel Bernard enrolled his 4-year-old son in preschool in a rural French town in the Ain region, he and his wife were prepared for their son to be teased.
Their child-born without his left hand and much of his forearm-had learned to hold a pencil and play like other children. But he would surely be made fun of, just by kids being kids.
On the first day of school, however, Bernard says he was shocked to discover that his son wasn’t so unique after all. He was one of four children in a class of 16 with similar birth defects affecting their hands and arms. One child was missing fingers, another the entire arm up to the elbow, a third was missing a hand.
Bernard and the other parents are part of a cluster of around two dozen families in two rural agricultural areas in France several hundred miles apart. These families have children born without hands or arms between 2011 and 2013.
Issue 12: Volume 4