In 2009, the Guardian ran an article and video documenting the unbelievably high rate of birth defects in Fallujah following the US use of heavy munitions in 2005. In one hospital alone, the rate was close to 25% — more than four times the normal rate globally
Now, three years later, Al Jazeera confirms that little has been done to investigate the cause of these birth defects. In that time, a single doctor has logged 667 cases of birth defects – and that’s just at one hospital. “There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we’ve never seen them until now,” she told Al Jazeera. “So when I describe it all I can do is describe the physical defects, but I’m unable to provide a medical term.”
In this video, mothers talk about their children’s conditions, and doctors describe some of the horrific birth defects they’ve seen in infants, including a pair of conjoined twins with one head missing. (It should go without saying that this footage is disturbing.)
Though the US has denied using prohibited weapons in Fallujah, a study in September 2011 found chemical contamination in local soil and water samples, as well as hair samples from the families of children with birth defects. Mercury, uranium, and bismuth are among the suspected culprits causing this unprecedented rise in congenital abnormalities.
Research has also shown a 12-fold increase in childhood cancers since 2004. The normal birth rate has also been skewed, with only 86 boys now being born for every 100 girls in Fallujah. The birth defect rate is more than 14 times that found today in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Despite the public health crisis, the Iraqi government has done nothing to investigate the causes of these birth defects. The people of Fallujah have been unable to obtain international support for the kind of in-depth, comprehensive study necessary to determine them. Even so, many pediatricians and obstetricians in Fallujah continue to care for these children and maintain medical records as best they can.
Photo by DVIDSHUB on Flickr