Vietnamese experts have called for protecting women in dioxin-contaminated areas as a new study showed local women are still suffering high rates of miscarriages and stillbirths.
“Our study shows the connection between recent pregnancy abnormalities and exposure to the wartime toxin,” Dr Tran Duc Phan of the Hanoi Medicine University said at a conference Tuesday where the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment and Science and Technology released their latest study on the effects of dioxin on the people and environment.
Phan was a member of the study that investigated 1,500 women in Da Nang city’s Thanh Khe District, 1,551 in Bien Hoa city of the southern province of Dong Nai, and 6,600 in Phu Cat District in the central province of Binh Dinh.
The miscarriage rate in Thanh Khe was 3.8 percent, in Bien Hoa 6.6 percent and Phu Cat 4.5 percent. Their rates of stillbirths were 1.6 percent, 2.4 percent, and 0.5 percent.
He said, as cited by Tuoi Tre, that the study team has urged authorities in the three areas to provide proper medical protection for people.
“We have suggested that all women are given the right dose of folic acid and early pregnancy healthcare.”
Folic acid is a vitamin B synthetically produced to support DNA synthesis and repair and is especially important in aiding rapid cell division and growth during pregnancy.
Between 1961 and 1971, the US sprayed 80 million liters of Agent Orange containing 366 kilograms of dioxin over 76,800 square kilometers of southern Vietnam to clear the forests used as natural cover by Vietnamese revolutionary forces.
Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during the war.
Bien Hoa, Da Nang, and Phu Cat have been targets of a national dioxin clean-up program since the US stored the chemicals there during the war that ended in April 1975.
Phu Cat was declared clean in August 2012. But the new study suggests it might not be completely safe yet.