Workshop discusses dioxin-related congenital defects

(VOV) - How to deal with congenital defects in dioxin-contaminated areas was proposed at a workshop in Hanoi on January 11.

It was reported that approximately 80 million litres of defoliants containing Agent Orange/dioxin were sprayed over South Vietnam by the US military between 1961 and 1971.

After the war ended in 1975, the Vietnamese government has carried out a number of programmes to reduce environmental pollution in dioxin-contaminated areas.

One of the programmes is studying and overcoming the long-term effects of Agent Orange/dioxin on the environment and people’s health.

Doctors said the concentration of dioxin at Bien Hoa, Danang and Phu Cat airports remains high, posing a high risk to local people’s health.

Every year, between 22,000 and 30,000 babies suffer from birth defects, making up 1.5-2 percent of the country’s newborn total. The mortality rate among the deformed babies is very high.  

Meanwhile, the number of deformed babies affected by Agent Orange/dioxin is 63 percent higher than those unexposed to the toxic chemicals.

Prenatal screening for pregnant women is a practical measure to early detect and reduce the rate of birth defects.

Among 17 dioxin-related illnesses detected in children of war veterans exposed to defoliants, musculoskeletal disorder takes the lead, accounting for 44.2 percent of the examined children, followed by Down syndrome, with 16 percent.

Scientists and experts proposed developing new prenatal screening technologies and increasing State investment and coordination between prenatal centres. The first such centres will be built in Danang and Bien Hoa cities – the two hot spots of dioxin contamination.

They also underlined the need to carry out communications and health education campaigns in hot spots, especially for those living around Bien Hoa and Danang airports.