The research, to be published this week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
, examined an alarming increase of birth defects in Fallujah and concluded for the first time that the unprecedented levels of newborns with cancers, tumors, skeletal, cardiac and neural-tube defects
could be linked to US military assaults on the Iraqi city.
Authors of the study, which focused on the genetic health of Fallujah, found deformities in the babies are almost 11 times higher than average rates. Those deformities spiked in the first half of 2010, the Guardian notes.
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist, said: “We suspect that the population is chronically exposed to an environmental agent. We don’t know what that environmental factor is, but we are doing more tests to find out,” according to the Guardian
The new study names metals as being a potential source of contamination in Fallujah, especially affecting pregnant mothers. “Metals are involved in regulating genome stability,” the study states. It added: “As environmental effectors, metals are potentially good candidates to cause birth defects,” the Guardian reported.
Long an issue of denial
, or no response, by the US military, uranium-laced weapons were used extensively in the two battles of Fallujah, in April and yet again in November 2004. It does, however, acknowledge the controversial use of white phosphorous
during the assaults.
The first assault of Fallujah by the occupying military occurred after four US-employed Blackwater security mercenaries were killed. The Bush-era assault involved extensive use of fighter jets for bombarding the city combined with a heavy artillery assault. The wholesale destruction
of the city occurred after former president Bush’s famous Mission Accomplished speech.
Depleted uranium ammunition leaves behind a toxic residue after hitting its target, some scientists claim, but it is still unclear if depleted uranium was used by the US military in any Iraq-related assault.
According to the research, other sources could be responsible for the deformities. “Many known war contaminants have the potential to interfere with normal embryonic and fetal development. The devastating effect of dioxins on the reproductive health of the Vietnamese people is well-known,” the Guardian reported.
The Guardian first reported
on the rising epidemic more than a year ago, and noted then that extensive record-keeping of newborns had begun months before that. In that report, obstetricians and neurologists stated the birth defects increase was unprecedented, among them a baby born with two heads.
The current study on Fallujah centered on 55 families that had newborns with severe deformities between May and August 2010. Dr. Samira Abdul Ghani, a Fallujah General Hospital paediatrician, conducted the study. In May, serious birth defects occurred in 15 percent of 547 newborns. Additionally disturbing, the study also found 11 percent of newborns occurred at less than 30 weeks and 14 percent of fetuses spontaneously aborted, the Guardian stated.
These numbers do not reveal the true crisis, as many families choose to have their babies born at home, as the parents are doubtful of help from authorities.
“It is important to understand that under normal conditions, the chances of such occurrences is virtually zero,” Savabieasfahani said in the Guardian.
“An epidemic of birth defects is unfolding in Fallujah, Iraq. This is a serious public health crisis that needs global attention. We need independent and unbiased research into the possible causes of this epidemic.
We invite scientists and organizations to get in touch with us so that we may gain the strength to address this large global public health issue,” Savabieasfahani added in the Guardian report.