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by Christopher J. Petherick
Tuesday, Jul. 01, 2003 at 8:23 PM
The man in the street may have heard about the deformed Iraqi children, born following the first Persian Gulf war. But Americans remain largely un aware about the shocking number of children with horrifying birth defects born to U.S. vets who returned home after the war ended in 1991.
Birth Defects Tied to GWS
Exclusive to American Free Press
By Christopher J. Petherick
American veterans of the 1991 war in Iraq, who reported suffering a wide array of debilitating illnesses now known as Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), have had an alarming number of children born with severe birth defects, according to several independent researchers. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), however, have refused to acknowledge a direct relationship between those who served in or around Iraq during the war and the increase in birth defects among their offspring.
On Jan. 17, 1991, the United States attacked Iraq to expel the country’s forces from Kuwait after it was invaded in 1990. Some 697,000 U.S. soldiers and sailors participated in the war, which barely lasted a month-and-a-half.
At first, U.S. war planners were applauded for keeping U.S. casualties to a minimum. But after the war officially came to close on Feb. 28, 1991, veterans began reporting illnesses doctors were at a loss to explain.
Veterans reported suffering a wide range of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, memory loss, depression, un explained rashes and sleep disturbances. This wide array of ailments came to be known collectively as GWS.
Despite the evidence, the government still refuses to link the war with illnesses suffered by vets.
The VA disputes reports on GWS, saying it “is a non-scientific label that has frequently been used to describe those veterans with unexplained illnesses.”
VA officials argue that veterans are actually suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, “an anxiety disorder commonly diagnosed in individuals exposed to extraordinary stress or trauma, such as that associated with military combat.”
But, 12 years after the war has ended, more and more veterans have reported their illnesses getting worse. According to some independent researchers, thousands of Gulf War I vets have died from illnesses related to GWS.
It’s not just veterans who are suffering from GWS. Another tragic result of the war, according to independent researchers, is the shocking number of children with severe birth defects born to Gulf War vets.
“Sixty-seven percent of babies born to the 400,000 vets who suffer from Gulf War Syndrome have birth defects,” said Joyce Riley, a former nurse who flew in Iraq and the founder and spokesperson of the American Gulf War Veterans Association. “But the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs do not want America to know the number of sick, dead and deformed kids that vets are having. It’s another cover-up.”
Mrs. Riley served in the Gulf War as a captain in the Air Force Reserve and flew C-130 missions with a medical team in support of the war.
“A lot of the babies are being born with organs out of place—kidneys in the wrong place, hearts out of the body,” Riley told AFP. “The most [common birth defect] is failure to thrive, where they could not keep weight on and just didn’t make it.”
Though the government refuses to acknowledge that many children of vets are suffering, Mrs. Riley says the evidence linking the ghastly birth defects to Iraq is overwhelming.
“One nurse who served over there—all three of her children were born autistic,” she said. “We’ve also seen a lot of what is known as ‘Goldenhar Syndrome,’ that is where there is a missing left eye and left ear. It’s very strange. A lot of people believe this has something to do with the radiological problem related to the use of depleted uranium.”
“Goldenhar Syndrome is a congenital birth defect which involves deformities of the face,” reports the National Craniofacial Association (NCA), a non-profit organization based in Tennessee that assists families of children born with facial deformities. “It usually affects one side of the face only. Characteristics include: a partially formed or totally absent ear; the chin may be closer to the affected ear; one corner of the mouth may be higher than the other; or a missing eye.”
According to NCA, the causes of Goldenhar Syndrome are a bit of a mystery. It is not caused by anything the mother does while pregnant. However, certain factors, such as the environment, play a part.
The group is specifically looking into a link between the Gulf War and an increase in this type of birth defect.
“[T]here does seem to be an increased incidence of Goldenhar among the children of Gulf War veterans,” reports NCA.
The NCA, along with the University of Texas South western Medical Center at Dallas and the Association of Birth Defect Children, Inc., have initiated a study into the relationship between Gulf War vets and Goldenhar. The groups are trying to locate all children with Goldenhar syndrome who were born subsequent to July 1, 1991, and who had a parent who served in the U.S. military between 1990 and 1991.
The reasons remain puzzling as to why so many children with birth defects have been born to veterans.
Some believe it is due to the vast number of highly toxic depleted uranium rounds fired into Iraq by U.S. forces. Others contend that it is due to the many vaccines given to troops working in the area. Still others argue that it is the result of the demolition of Iraq’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
As more veterans come forward, researchers are confident that a link will be established and GWS sufferers and their children will finally get the justice they deserve.
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