March 25, 2013 - The Iraq War may be over, but the casualties continue for Iraqi couples trying to have children without life-threatening birth defects.
An apparent rise in Iraqi birth defects has left parents, doctors and researchers scrambling for answers – and wondering whether there's a link between the war and babies born with deformities that often render them unable to survive until their first birthday.
"They [parents] feel desperate," Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a reproductive toxicologist who used to work at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told ABCNews.com. She traveled to Iraq's Fallujah General Hospital in 2010 to research the birth defects and co-authored studies in 2010 and 2012. "One major problem we had was that there weren't enough families who had normal children, and therefore we ended up with fewer normal family studies."
Savabieasfahani and her colleagues concluded that many Iraqi babies were born with congenital heart defects, spina bifida and other deformities because their parents had high levels of lead, mercury and uranium levels in their hair, nails and teeth. They suggested that the toxins came from airborne pollutants released during the Iraq War.
"Toxic metals such as mercury (Hg) and Pb [lead] are an integral part of war ammunition and are extensively used in the making of bullets and bombs," it says in the results section of the study. read more>>>
The BBC has reported that a much anticipated study by the WHO and Iraqi Ministry of Health will show that rates of birth defects in Iraq are higher in areas that were subject to heavy fighting in 2003.
22 March 2013 - The report, broadcast on BBC World and available online features an interview with researchers at the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH). The researchers indicate that the report, which has been produced jointly by the WHO and MoH, will find that rates of birth defects are higher in areas of Iraq that were subjected to heavy fighting in the 2003 war. The publication of the final report, scheduled for early this year has been delayed, but the BBC's report offers a first glimpse at the results. read more>>>