The curse of Fallujah: Women warned not to have babies because of rise in birth defects since U.S. operationPosted: March 4, 2010
Doctors and parents blame the increase in deformities among children on weapons used by the U.S. during fierce battles in the city in 2004
by Anny Shaw
Published: Mar. 04, 2010 – FMWF
A sharp increase in birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah could be linked to sophisticated weaponry used by U.S. troops in 2004, it has been revealed.
There has been a ‘massive unprecedented number’ of heart defects and an increase in the number of central nervous system defects in newborns, Fallujah doctors have told British-based Iraqi researcher Malik Hamdan.
‘I’ve seen footage of babies born with an eye in the middle of the forehead, the nose on the forehead,’ Hamdan claims.
BBC correspondent John Simpson reported seeing children in the city who were suffering from paralysis or brain damage – and a photograph of one baby who was born with three heads.
Officials in Fallujah had warned women that they should not have children, he added.
Doctors and parents believe the problem is the highly sophisticated weapons the US troops used in Fallujah six years ago.
Data indicates the rate of congenital heart defects among infants in the Iraqi city is 13 times higher than in Europe, the researcher says.
Doctors and parents in Fallujah say they believe the problems are linked to weapons used by U.S. troops when they carried out a major offensive against insurgents in 2004.
U.S. military spokesman Michael Kilpatrick rejected the idea.
‘No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues,’ he said.
‘Unexploded ordinance, including improvised explosive devises, are a recognised hazard,’ he added.
Iraqi doctors are reticent to talk about the problem, fearing they will create trouble for the U.S. military.
The official line is that Falluja, which lies 40 miles west of Baghdad, has only two or three cases of birth defects a year more than normal.
Controversial weaponry was used during the bombing, including white phosphorus.
Last year a group of Iraqi and British officials called on the UN to ask that an independent committee fully investigate the defects and help clean up toxic materials left over after decades of war.
‘We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies,’ Falluja general hospital’s director and senior specialist, Dr Ayman Qais told the Guardian.
‘Before 2003 [the start of the war] I was seeing sporadic numbers of deformities in babies. Now the frequency of deformities has increased dramatically.’
‘Most are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs,’ he said.
‘There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of less than two years [old] with brain tumours. This is now a focus area of multiple tumours.’