Soldiers link baby deaths to jabs
Monday, 1 March, 2004, 14:18 GMT
The NGVFA is demanding an inquiry to investigate if there is a link
Some UK Soldiers who served in Iraq have expressed fears for their unborn babies after claiming a number of child deaths are linked to anthrax jabs.
There have been two miscarriages, three premature births, one still-birth and a medical termination associated with one Hampshire unit since last year.
At least one of the parents had received the anthrax jab in each case.
A spokeswoman for the MoD said there was no link between a higher rate of congenital disabilities and vaccines.
The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association (NGVFA) is calling for a public inquiry into the deaths.
It follows claims that women in the first Gulf War were advised by the Army not to conceive children for at least one year after they or their partner received the vaccine.
One woman was due in four weeks and she was very, very irate
A total of 105 soldiers from the Gosport based 33 Field Hospital were stationed on the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border and then Basra at the beginning of last year.
The unit includes medics, chefs, Royal Engineers, drivers, clerks and quartermasters.
Charles Plumridge, spokesman for the NGVFA, said several worried parents-to-be had called him.
He said: "I had several calls yesterday on our helpline from mothers and husbands whose wives are now pregnant and are worried their babies may be born with some form of defect.
"One woman was due in four weeks and she was very, very irate.
"They were all inoculated for Gulf War Two with anthrax and all the other vaccines associated with the Gulf."
Among the cases is Lance Corporal Andy Saupe's son, who was born 10 weeks premature with growth problems and limb defects.
Baby Kye survived only five weeks before his life support machine was switched off.
L/Cpl Saupe, a 23-year-old Army chef, had two anthrax injections before being deployed to the Gulf.
His wife Alex, 25, became pregnant weeks later but the foetus did not develop properly.
An MoD spokeswoman said: "The vaccine has been given to both civilian and military personnel for many years without any clinical evidence of long-term ill effects as a result."
"Congenital disabilities are unfortunately common - affecting about one in 33 live births."
She said a number of studies showed a high rate of congenital disabilities of children born to 1991 Gulf veterans but these were not connected to vaccination programmes.
She said: "The authors concluded they were unable to determine if the higher rate was due to inherited, or environmental factors or due to chance.
"There's no link between the higher rate and vaccines," she said.