Misery Continues in Iraq: Birth Defects Spike in Fallujah

Despite several years of peace and the opening of  a new hospital, another kind of misery is hitting people in parts of Iraq.  Doctors in Fallujah, a major battle zone during the conflict, note a staggering increase in birth defects in the last few years.  The Guardian reports that 25% of all babies born at one hospital have birth defects and abnormalities; the March of Dimes estimates that 6% of babies are born with defects globally.  One Iraqi doctor interviewed confirmed seeing significant increases in neurotube defects, hydrocephalus, tumors, and mutations.  Specialists are finally being able to compile statistics that show a birth defect occurrence as much as 15 times the pre-war rate. According to the Guardian: “The anomalies are evident all through Falluja’s newly opened general hospital and in centres for disabled people across the city. On 2 November alone, there were four cases of neuro-tube defects in the neo-natal ward and several more were in the intensive care ward and an outpatient clinic.” The new hospital is being overrun by newborns battling dreadful challenges. They face lives of intensive and expensive care for the rest of their lives, if they survive.

Statistics are difficult to come by in an erstwhile war zone, but reporters have uncovered startling stories: In 2008 Sky News quoted a Fallujah undertaker who buries four to five newborns every day, most of them with deformities. Iraqi doctors are calling on the U.N. for funding and an international investigation.

Theories as to the cause of the Fallujah statistics include weapons-related radiation or white phosphorus use, air pollution, psychological stress on the mother, malnutrition, and more. Birth defects have multiple and uncertain causes, and the environment certainly plays an important role.  For example, a 2009  U.S. study linked birth defects to month of conception, which at first glance may seem like astrology; the study associates higher pesticide presence in surface water during the spring and summer months with the spike in birth defects for babies conceived during that time.

As humans we love cause and effect and simple answers: “Find the cause, fix it and move on.”  Unfortunately, the complex relationships of human health, environmental health, poverty and violence make easy answers impossible.  The only sure thing is that there is a long road ahead for the suffering babies of Fallujah, for their families, and for the human family.

The Guardian video can be viewed below. Warning: it is a disturbing topic with disturbing images.

Photo by Yankee November via Flickr. CC license An American soldier cares for an Iraqi baby


Sue H
Sue Habout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

Marjorie F.
Marjorie F7 years ago

War is not pretty, it never has been. Weapons are made to kill however, when they go beyond killing and go on to mangle and prevent future life it becomes something far more horrific. This particular war was started and built upon a Lie. An untruth, facts gotten wrong however you want to say it. The leader and president of Iraq was not a good man did his whole country deserve to be forever mauled? It so kind of us to help them to build a nice hospital.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W9 years ago

Very sad. However, kissing the baby (as in the photo) won't help. It seems to be the soldier's own publicity.

pierluigi bonatesta


Mervi R.
Mervi R9 years ago

Thank you for shedding light on this important issue.

Amanda Yunker
Amanda R9 years ago

Great article to raise awareness. But the soldier (presumably US soldier) kissing a baby? Urm, what does that have to do with what the article is saying? Why not show a picture of that child's mother instead?

Ian MacLeod
Ian MacLeod9 years ago

The Neocons/eugenicists/RadRight "Christians" have been pushing for the same "solution" to "the browning of America" and to the potential problem-causing vets returning from yet another (couple of) illegal, immoral, illegally savage war(s). If they die shortly after returning, say a decade or so, and surely the bureaucracy can delay medical treatment at LEAST that long, then the government will spend that much less on caring for them and won't have to worrying about them being troublesome for long, crony capitalists will make lots of money from them warehousing them in the private prison system, and they can be useful in other ways. Nope; it's not an experiment.


Ian MacLeod
Ian MacLeod9 years ago

"It's the use of depleted uranium weapons which is causing the birth defects "
It isn't JUST that. It's a lot of it though, certainly, and science has known about it for decades. The Pentagon chooses to deny it because if they acknowledged it's as dangerous as it really is, their multi-billion dollar DU weapons and weapons systems would all be nuclear waste they'd have to pay to dispose of.

Anpther causative agent is Roundup; it's a glycophosphate weed killer that target the genes and makes plants grow unpredictably and destroy themselves. It also (another known factor, both because it's happening in Mexico and elsewhere) scrambles and damages the genes of animals, humans included. It's the active ingredient (glycophosphate) in Agent Orange.

And GMO cotton in India killed all 17 bison when they were allowed to graze as they always had, on the plants after they'd been harvested. GMO food plants like soy have also been shown to damage organs and cause severe illness and death. It isn't "an experiment." They already know what it all does. In 1974 I think, Henry Kissinger helped formulate a National Policy that mandated the removal of 80%-90% of the populations of Third World countries in possession of "our" resources that we would need in the future who might resist our just taking them. The Neocons/eugenicists/RadRight "Christians" have been pushing for the same "solution" to "the browning of America" and to the potential problem-causing vets returning from yet an

Barbara B9 years ago

With that high of a jump in the percentage of babies born with birth defects; someone ought to realize there has to be an environmental factor. God Bless the families effected!

Kathleen R.
Katz R9 years ago

I'm surprised no one has noted that since our invasion Iraq has been forced to plant monsanto seeds and grow monsanto crops, it wouldn't surprise me if these people are being used as guinea pigs as horrible as that sounds