Rising birth defects, miscarriages among Iraqis linked to war
Baghdad, Iraq (4E) – A new study has linked rising incidences of birth defects among Iraqi children, miscarriages and toxic contamination to exposure of locals from chemicals released by bombs used by the U.S. and U.K. military.
The study entitled “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,” appears in the journal Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. It was authored by Iraqi gynecologists M. Al-Sabbak and S. Sadik Ali, Iranian dentists O. Savabi and G. Savabi, Iranian public health official S. Dastgiri and environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani from the School of Public Health of the University of Michigan.
The study conducted from 2007 to 2010 covered 56 families in Fallujah, around 40 miles west of Baghdad, and patients at Basrah’s Maternity Hospital in southern Iraq.
The researchers found that more than half of all babies surveyed in Fallujah were born with congenital heart defects, brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs. Prior to the invasion of Iraq by U.S. and British forces, the ratio of birth defects was one in 10.
In Basrah, more than 20 babies out of 1,000 were born with defects in 2003, 17 times higher than the figure recorded in the previous decade, according to the study. The past seven years saw the number of Basrah babies born with defects rise 60 percent of 37 out of every 1,000 births.
Hair samples from deformed children in Fallujah had lead and mercury content five and six times higher than in other children. Teeth of Basrah children with birth defects had three times more lead than those of children living in areas not struck by the artillery.
Women exposed to lead or mercury pollutants from ammunitions can pass the toxins to their unborn child, the World Health Organization said. High levels of the chemicals can cause kidney and brain damage, blindness, seizures, muteness, lack of coordination and even death.
Fallujah was invaded twice by U.S. Marines in 2004. Heavy artillery, including phosphorous shells, were used to strike insurgents in the city. British forces attacked Basrah in 2003.
The U.S. Defense Department and the U.K. government denied that the birth defects were caused by military activities as there are no official report or study on the matter and there is no reliable medical evidence to support the allegations.