Doctors in the Iraq city of Fallujah are reporting an unusually high amount of birth defects in the region, with many medical professionals saying the weapons used by US forces in the intense 2004 fighting are to blame. Heart and nervous system defects among newborn babies is said to have soared in the city in the years since the fighting, now at levels 13 times those of Europe. Doctors and parents interviewed by BBC say they believe toxic materials left over from the 2004 fighting entered the water supply in Fallujah. One doctor says medical officials note two or three cases of birth defects each day, and are urging local women not to have children.
There are no official figures documenting the rise, and the Iraqi government insists there are only one or two extra cases of birth defects per year in Fallujah, compared with the national average. There have been widespread charges that the US used white phosphorus and depleted uranium weapons in Fallujah. The US does not confirm these claims. (AHN, BBC News, March 4)
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