Iraq: Fallujah Doctors Report Dramatic Rise In Birth Defects (BBC)

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Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects


John Simpson talks about the children with birth defects he saw in Fallujah

Doctors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are reporting a high level of birth defects, with some blaming weapons used by the US after the Iraq invasion.

The city witnessed fierce fighting in 2004 as US forces carried out a major offensive against insurgents.

Now, the level of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than in Europe.

The US military says it is not aware of any official reports showing an increase in birth defects in the area.

BBC world affairs editor John Simpson visited a new, US-funded hospital in Fallujah where paediatrician Samira al-Ani told him that she was seeing as many as two or three cases a day, mainly cardiac defects.

iraq_falluja

– 40 miles (64km) west of the capital Baghdad

– Major city in the predominantly Sunni province of Anbar, a hotbed of insurgency following US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003

– Burned corpses of four ambushed US contractors dragged through the streets of the city in March 2004

– Scene of major US-led offensive against insurgents in November 2004, when thousands of marines stormed the city

– US military’s use of white phosphorus munitions in that offensive widely condemned

– Situation in Anbar as a whole calmer since 2006, when tribal “Awakening Councils” turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq
Disturbing tale of birth defects

Our correspondent also saw children in the city who were suffering from paralysis or brain damage – and a photograph of one baby who was born with three heads.

He adds that he heard many times that officials in Fallujah had warned women that they should not have children.

Doctors and parents believe the problem is the highly sophisticated weapons the US troops used in Fallujah six years ago.

British-based Iraqi researcher Malik Hamdan told the BBC’s World Today programme that doctors in Fallujah were witnessing a “massive unprecedented number” of heart defects, and an increase in the number of nervous system defects.

She said that one doctor in the city had compared data about birth defects from before 2003 – when she saw about one case every two months – with the situation now, when, she saw cases every day.

Ms Hamdan said that based on data from January this year, the rate of congenital heart defects was 95 per 1,000 births – 13 times the rate found in Europe.

“I’ve seen footage of babies born with an eye in the middle of the forehead, the nose on the forehead,” she added.

A spokesman for the US military, Michael Kilpatrick, said it always took public health concerns “very seriously”.

“No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues,” he said.

“Unexploded ordinance, including improvised explosive devices, are a recognised hazard,” he added.

Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Source: BBC NEWS

See also:
German Bundeswehr Manual: U.S. Military Uses Depleted Uranium Ammunition in Afghanistan

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