Doctors and parents in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are blaming a sharp increase in the number of birth defects on the highly sophisticated weapons U.S. troops have used in the city during the war.
The BBC reported Thursday the staggering statistic from doctors in the city that the number of heart defects found in newborn babies is 13 times the number of similar birth defects in Europe.
U.S. troops carried out a major offensive in the city in 2004. Military spokesman Michael Kilpatrick told the news organization it takes public health concerns "very seriously."
"No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues," Kilpatrick told the BBC. "Unexploded ordinance, including improvised explosive devices, are a recognized hazard."
British-based Iraqi researcher Malik Hamdan told the news organization that one doctor compared the number of birth defects from before 2003 to today. Before the war began, she saw about one case every two months. Now she sees cases every day.
Her research shows that as of January, the rate of congenital heart defects was 95 per 1,000 births or 13 times Europe's rate.
"I've seen footage of babies born with an eye in the middle of the forehead, the nose on the forehead," she told the BBC.