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Rise in birth defects in Fallujah linked to US weapons

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Summary of story from Aljazeera, January 6, 2012

Doctors and residents of Fallujah in Iraq are blaming weapons used during US attacks to describe “catastrophic” levels of birth defects and abnormalities.

Almost 700 birth defects have been recorded in Fallujah since October 2009.

Dr Samira Alani, a paediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has been studying the explosion in congenital abnormalities since the 2005 invasion by US forces.

The blame has been placed on weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous, deployed during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah in 2004.

“There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we’ve never seen them until now,” she says.

A July 2010 study showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since 2004. And the number of birth defects – 14.7 per cent – is more than 14 times the number in areas affected by radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The rates could be still higher, says Dr Alani, since many families have home births.

Dr Alani and other researchers analysed hair samples from parents of children with birth defects, as well as soil and water samples from Fallujah.

Their report concluded that findings of mercury, uranium and other trace elements “suggest the enriched Uranium exposure is either a primary cause or related to the cause of the congenital anomaly and cancer increases.

“Questions are thus raised about the characteristics and composition of weapons now being deployed in modern battlefields.”

In April 2011, Iraqi lawmakers debated whether the US attacks on Fallujah constituted genocide but resolutions for international prosecution were not acted on.

With no official or governmental study, Alani is determined to continue her investigations.

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