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Surprising Science

Infant Deformity

Doctors in Iraq are treating 15 times more chronic deformities in infants since the war – due possibly to toxic materials leftover from the fighting.

Doctors in Falluja, a war-ravaged region in Iraq, are reportedly treating 15 times as many chronic deformities in babies since the war began. There has also been an increase in infant cancers and scientists are suggesting that there could be links to toxic materials left over from the fighting. “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.’


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