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US Attacks in Fallujah in 2004 and Basra in 1991 Both Result in Delayed Onset of Huge Increases in Birth Defects [ 63893 ] -

Jim White

4iraqboy-du.jpg

This 18-month-old boy from Basra, Iraq suffers from birth defects, which doctors believe were caused by his mothers exposure to depleted uranium.


March 4, 2010

With a story today, BBC reminds us of the disturbing rise in birth defects that is being seen in Fallujah, which was the scene of intense fighting in 2004. It is widely reported that the US used depleted uranium munitions and even white phosphorus in these battles at Fallujah. In an article last November, The Guardian noted that the increase in birth defects is recent:

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

The Guardian also posted this moving video describing the situation:

What I find truly striking about the situation in Fallujah is that it is now an echo of what happened in Basra after the first Gulf War. In this scientific paper, we have remarkably good data showing the incidence of birth defects in Basra following the 1991 war. Here is a key portion of the discussion of the data:

In discussion of their findings through 1998, the Basra researchers stated that their data indicate an increase in birth defects in Basra beginning in 1995, four years after initial exposure. With the data through 2000 at hand, these writers’ assessment is that it is difficult to distinguish between a gradual and ongoing increase in rates for various defects vs. a several year lag-to-onset of any elevation of rates. Specifying either of these distinctive temporal patterns for occurrence of birth defects could contribute to efforts to separate the teratogenic roles of DU and other possible antecedent causes, and also to efforts to discern the underlying mechanism that leads to teratogenesis. Both descriptions of the Basra pattern (a gradual rise, a lag-time-to-rise in frequency of occurrence of birth defects) are consonant with the Battelle Laboratory work that measured at minimum a 4-year dissolution and migration half-time for ceramic DU [5].

What is truly striking, though, is to look at the actual data that were collected. Here is their Table 1:

Table 1

Despite the caveats in the discussion, it seems clear to me from the results in Basra that birth defects make an alarming jump after a delay of around seven years. We are now at about six years after the attacks in Fallujah, so the increase there may be occurring a bit earlier, which may not be unexpected since it was the site of two very heavy battles in 2004, both likely more intense than the fighting in Basra in 1991.

Most publications I reviewed on this topic link the birth defects to the use of depleted uranium. If statistical data for Fallujah can be collected and if they match the data for Basra as well as the current anecdotal reports suggest, it would seem that there would be sufficient basis for outlawing depleted uranium weapons.

Oh, and the US was already aware that some were calling for such a ban before Bush’s invasion in 2003:

A United States defence official has said moves to ban depleted uranium ammunition are just an attempt by America’s enemies to blunt its military might.

Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium (DU) shells had no medical basis.

"They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them," he told a Pentagon briefing.

If war starts, tonnes of depleted uranium (DU) weapons are likely to be used by British and American tanks and by ground attack aircraft.

Yeah, we kicked the crap out of them again. And we caused many more children to be born with horrible problems, due to medical effects from depleted uranium. It’s time to bring this practice to an end.

[Note, yes, neural tube defects, which dominate The Guardian's video can also be attributed to maternal deficiencies in folic acid just before and during pregnancy, but it would be expected that diets in Fallujah (and Basra) would have been much worse in the time immediately surrounding the attacks and somewhat better by the time of the delayed onset birth defects.]



:: Article nr. 63893 sent on 05-mar-2010 14:17 ECT

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Jim White:
March 4, 2010 - With a story today, BBC reminds us of the disturbing rise in birth defects that is being seen in Fallujah, which was the scene of intense fighting in 2004. It is widely reported that the US used depleted uranium munitions and even white phosphorus in these battles at Fallujah. In an article last November, The Guardian noted that the increase in birth defects is recent [...] What I find truly striking about the situation in Fallujah is that it is now an echo of what happened in Basra after the first Gulf War. In this scientific paper, we have remarkably good data showing the incidence of birth defects in Basra following the 1991 war...
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