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Effect of the Gulf War on Infant and Child Mortality in Iraq

"WHEN Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, international trade sanctions were rapidly instituted against Iraq. On January 16, 1991, the war to liberate Kuwait began, and within six weeks Allied forces declared a cease-fire. Civilian revolts against the Iraqi government in March and April resulted in the displacement of an estimated 2 million people in the northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shiite) regions of Iraq. Little objective information is available about the effect of the economic sanctions, war, and civilian uprisings on the health of civilians. An international team that visited Iraq in April 1991 reported epidemics of cholera, typhoid, and gastroenteritis and found that mortality rates had increased two to three times among children admitted to hospitals in Baghdad and Basra.1 Other studies have reported on the health conditions in Kurdish refugee camps2 , 3 and the nutritional status of children in the south.4 However, all previous estimates of the effect of the war on health have been based on studies of selected population groups that may not represent the entire country. We report here the results of a survey of mortality conducted in a nationwide sample of households between August 25 and September 5, 1991. The survey was made independently of the Iraqi government by a team of international researchers."
Alberto Ascherio, Robert Chase, Tim Coté, Godelieave Dehaes, Eric Hoskins
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston
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