Iraqi War Zone Sees Big Spike in Birth Defects

Fallujah reports unusually high rate of abnormalities
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2009 1:24 PM CST
Iraqi security forces inspect a bombed-out in Fallujah.   (AP Photo/Bilal Fawzi)

(Newser) – Doctors in Fallujah are seeing an alarming rise in the number of birth defects and early life cancers. They have no definitive evidence, but suspicion has naturally fallen on toxic materials left behind after years of modern warfare, reports the Guardian. The rate of birth defects—including multiple tumors, nervous system disorders, and even one infant born with two heads—is up to 15 times higher than normal.

"Most are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs," said the director of a city hospital that sees an average of two such admissions a day. A year ago, it saw two every two weeks. Fallujah was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and the US has acknowledged using white phosphorous in 2004. (Read more Fallujah stories.)