The Military => The Military: General Discussion Area => Topic started by: Koen on 13 November 2009, 21:17:39



Title: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Koen on 13 November 2009, 21:17:39
Iraqi former battle zone sees abnormal clusters of infant tumours and deformities

Doctors in Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.

The extraordinary rise in birth defects has crystallised over recent months as specialists working in Falluja's over-stretched health system have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born.

Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable.

A group of Iraqi and British officials, including the former Iraqi minister for women's affairs, Dr Nawal Majeed a-Sammarai, and the British doctors David Halpin and Chris Burns-Cox, have petitioned the UN general assembly to ask that an independent committee fully investigate the defects and help clean up toxic materials left over decades of war – including the six years since Saddam Hussein was ousted.

"We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies," said Falluja general hospital's director and senior specialist, Dr Ayman Qais. "Before 2003 [the start of the war] I was seeing sporadic numbers of deformities in babies. Now the frequency of deformities has increased dramatically."

The rise in frequency is stark – from two admissions a fortnight a year ago to two a day now. "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."

After several years of speculation and anecdotal evidence, a picture of a highly disturbing phenomenon in one of Iraq's most battered areas has now taken shape. Previously all miscarried babies, including those with birth defects or infants who were not given ongoing care, were not listed as abnormal cases.

The Guardian asked a paediatrician, Samira Abdul Ghani, to keep precise records over a three-week period. Her records reveal that 37 babies with anomalies, many of them neural tube defects, were born during that period at Falluja general hospital alone.

Dr Bassam Allah, the head of the hospital's children's ward, this week urged international experts to take soil samples across Falluja and for scientists to mount an investigation into the causes of so many ailments, most of which he said had been "acquired" by mothers before or during pregnancy.

Other health officials are also starting to focus on possible reasons, chief among them potential chemical or radiation poisonings. Abnormal clusters of infant tumours have also been repeatedly cited in Basra and Najaf – areas that have in the past also been intense battle zones where modern munitions have been heavily used.

Falluja's frontline doctors are reluctant to draw a direct link with the fighting. They instead cite multiple factors that could be contributors.

"These include air pollution, radiation, chemicals, drug use during pregnancy, malnutrition, or the psychological status of the mother," said Dr Qais. "We simply don't have the answers yet."

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.

Falluja was the scene of the only two setpiece battles that followed the US-led invasion. Twice in 2004, US marines and infantry units were engaged in heavy fighting with Sunni militia groups who had aligned with former Ba'athists and Iraqi army elements.

The first battle was fought to find those responsible for the deaths of four Blackwater private security contractors working for the US. The city was bombarded heavily by American artillery and fighter jets. Controversial weaponry was used, including white phosphorus, which the US government admitted deploying.

Statistics on infant tumours are not considered as reliable as new data about nervous system anomalies, which are usually evident immediately after birth. Dr Abdul Wahid Salah, a neurosurgeon, said: "With neuro-tube defects, their heads are often larger than normal, they can have deficiencies in hearts and eyes and their lower limbs are often listless. There has been no orderly registration here in the period after the war and we have suffered from that. But [in relation to the rise in tumours] I can say with certainty that we have noticed a sharp rise in malignancy of the blood and this is not a congenital anomaly – it is an acquired disease."

Despite fully funding the construction of the new hospital, a well-equipped facility that opened in August, Iraq's health ministry remains largely disfunctional and unable to co-ordinate a response to the city's pressing needs.

The government's lack of capacity has led Falluja officials, who have historically been wary of foreign intervention, to ask for help from the international community. "Even in the scientific field, there has been a reluctance to reach out to the exterior countries," said Dr Salah. "But we have passed that point now. I am doing multiple surgeries every day. I have one assistant and I am obliged to do everything myself."


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: FACman on 14 November 2009, 02:22:52
I have but three words to add here...'Depleted Uranium Ordinance'


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Tanker on 14 November 2009, 02:26:11
Did we use much in the way of depleted uranium at Fallujah?  Seems more of an anti tank weapon for the A-10 etc.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: FACman on 14 November 2009, 04:49:48
I believe the usage was widespread, though I do not know which pieces of ordinance used them other than the A10s and the M1s. Kinda reminds me of the 'Agent Orange' legacy in the Nam.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Rattler on 14 November 2009, 05:13:00
In this case the agnet causing malformations probably is "White Phosphorus", not DU.

Rattler


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: stoffel on 14 November 2009, 12:50:13
I am a bit sceptic.
10 years ago there was a dictator in charge.
I dont think before we went in any numbers are available.
Judging by the numbers given so far in Koens report and given the fact that a few million people live in that area from which a large number had no acces to medical service under Hussain I think its a bit premature to say allied forces armies are the reason for these abnormalities.
Dont forget that large stockpiles with old chemical weapons and or substances which were stored very bad by the Iraqis were found throughout the country in 1991.
I would say wait for official reports and do thorough investigations before charging anybody.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: FACman on 14 November 2009, 14:45:06
I agree with Stoffel for the most part, but then I think about my exposure to that 'benign' (according to the manufacturers) defoliant (Agent Orange) indiscriminately used in Vietnam and I get P***'d  hdbng. So I would say; he is probably correct, but I still have a nagging suspicion.

J


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Tanker on 14 November 2009, 17:16:05
That sounds reasonable Henk.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: stoffel on 14 November 2009, 22:49:00
To be honoust, I know taht as well, and the stories of gulf 1 vets who got sick.
On the other side, Dutch marines( who served in cambodia) and civilians in Cambodia also became sick, which was blamed to exposure to chemicals as well.
After about 8 years of investigations, the navy found very thin evidence it might have been cause by a new experimental malaria vaccination.
Nobody ever heard about it again, and for most of them there is still no cure.
It can go many different ways, lets wait for an answer from an independent research crew.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Jilly on 14 November 2009, 23:16:38
Just wondering what kind of chemicals are they using over there that would produce these defects?


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Tanker on 15 November 2009, 06:09:37
The missing WMD ones. ;)


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: the_13th_redneck on 21 November 2009, 10:37:12
I think the stress a pregnant mother feels in a city that's constantly engulfed in violence is likely to cause a massive hike in birth defects all on its own.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Jilly on 22 November 2009, 22:36:22
Me not get that, Tanker.   ???

Yep,  the stress cannot be good for them... 


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Tanker on 23 November 2009, 00:13:26
Jilly not get what?


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Jilly on 23 November 2009, 12:51:19
The missing WMD ones. ;)


Jilly not get what WMD means.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: FACman on 23 November 2009, 14:48:21
Quote
Jilly not get what WMD means.


I believe Tanker is referring to the Weapons of Mass Destruction that Iraq was known to have before the invasion. Amongst those weapons were some very toxic chemical weapons, which may very well have leaked into the environment and are contributing to or are the source of the problem.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Tanker on 23 November 2009, 15:48:40
Exactly so Jody.  My post was meant to be more or less ironic.  Since an extensive post invasion search failed to turn up much in the way of WMDs, perhaps, (very tounge in cheek) they were left in Fallujah.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: FACman on 23 November 2009, 16:03:08
I suspect in their haste to dispose of them, they may have had some serious mishaps. I believe that they had them at one time, since we gave them the tech for some of it, while they were at war with Iran.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Jilly on 23 November 2009, 19:20:04
Perhaps they threw them in the rivers and the pregnant women drank some of the water from that and ended up giving birth to babies with defects..

That's one theory.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: the_13th_redneck on 21 January 2010, 16:06:24
No, I don't think Iraqi women go and drink from rivers.
I think you've got them confused with Wildebeasts.


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: stoffel on 21 January 2010, 18:23:22
Oh yes, Iraq did not have WMDs.
We couldnt find them, but that doesnt mean they are stored somewherein a hidden cave.
Just assume that 1 or 2 officers who might know those locations, could be dead by now.

And I think there are relatives of 5000 Kurds who can tell you they sure had them.........


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Koen on 21 January 2010, 19:16:28
Oh yes, Iraq did not have WMDs.
We couldnt find them, but that doesnt mean they are stored somewherein a hidden cave.
Just assume that 1 or 2 officers who might know those locations, could be dead by now.

And I think there are relatives of 5000 Kurds who can tell you they sure had them.........


depends on what you call WMD's?


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: stoffel on 21 January 2010, 20:55:04
Nerve gas can be made of two simple common used components, its not that difficult to make them, nor does it take a long time.
The idea a country can make them on short notice and threathens to use them on a large scale( which they did before) is enough reason to attack ;)


Title: Re: Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja
Post by: Koen on 21 January 2010, 21:14:48
Nerve gas can be made of two simple common used components, its not that difficult to make them, nor does it take a long time.
The idea a country can make them on short notice and threathens to use them on a large scale( which they did before) is enough reason to attack ;)


in that case they could attack ALOT of countries I think...