Friday, 19 February 2010

Nerve agents could be to blame for tripling of child leukaemia in Basra

Rates of leukaemia in children around the Basra area of Southern Iraq have almost tripled in the last 15 years according to calculations by public health experts. Research published in the American Journal of Public Health documents 698 cases of leukaemia among children under the age of 15 in the period to 2007. There was a peak of 211 cases in 2006.

Rates increased from three to almost 8.5 cases of the disease per 100,000 children over the time period. This is more than double the rate of leukaemia in the European Union.

The researchers, who studied hospital cancer registries in Basra, said that more analysis was now need to identify triggers for the surge. They speculated that increased exposure to substances related to childhood leukaemia might be responsible — such as byproducts of regional petroleum fires and benzene, which comes from gasoline sold by children at the side of the road as a result of disrupted fuel supplies. War-related nerve agents and pesticides, and the widespread use of depleted uranium munitions, might also be factors, they said.

For the full report click HERE to see the Times On-line Web page.


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