This 18-month-old boy from Basra, Iraq suffers from birth defects, which doctors believe were caused by his mothers exposure to depleted uranium. (photo: URUKNET)
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The Arab American News
Iraq: 'Special weapons' have fallout on babies
FALLUJAH (IPS) - Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say.
Many doctors believe DU to be the cause of a severe increase in the incidence of cancer in Iraq, as well as among U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and through the current occupation.
"I had two children who had brain damage from birth," 28-year-old Hayfa' Shukur told IPS. "My husband has been detained by the Americans since November 2004 and so I had to take the children around by myself to hospitals and private clinics. They died. I spent all our savings and borrowed a considerable amount of money."
"Many babies were born with major congenital malformations," a paediatric doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "These infants include many with heart defects, cleft lip or palate, Down's syndrome, and limb defects."
Many doctors speak of similar cases and a similar pattern. The indications remain anecdotal, in the absence of either a study, or any available official records.
The Fallujah General Hospital administration was unwilling to give any statistics on deformed babies, but one doctor volunteered to speak on condition of anonymity -- for fear of reprisals if seen to be critical of the administration.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern Mar. 31 about the lack of medical supplies in hospitals in Baghdad and Basra.
"We are experiencing a big shortage of everything," said the official, "We don't have enough specialist doctors and medicines, and most of the medical equipment is outdated.
He said the 2008 health budget meant that total expenditure on medicines, medical equipment and ambulances would amount to an average of 22 dollars per citizen.
But this is too late for the unknown number of babies and their families who bore the consequences of the earlier devastation. And it is too little to cover the special needs of babies who survived with deformations.
Ali al-Fadhily is a correspondent in Baghdad and works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, a U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East.
Articles/videos : Depleted Uranium/Uranium appauvri