Tragic: Study found that kids born to exposed families were found being lighter, thinner and with smaller heads

Bhopal gas survivors take part in a rally on the anniversary of the tragedy on Thursday

Thirty one years after the night that exposed 5,00,000 families in Bhopal to toxic methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide plant, many children are still being born with disabilities to the these families, a new study by the Sambhavna Trust Clinic found.The study, whose data is still being analysed, saw in its preliminary findings that when compared to unexposed families, a large number of children are being born with congenital malformations to parents with acute exposure to toxic gas or chronic exposure to contaminated water.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Founder and manager of the Trust, Satinath Sarangi spoke to dna on Thursday, also the World Disability Day, describing how much of the aid coming the way of these children was from civil society organisations, and not the government. “In October 1991, the Supreme Court ordered the central government to provide medical insurance to the 100,000 children born to the exposed families. Till date, none of them have been covered,” said Sarangi.The Indian Council of Medical Research initiated a study in the aftermath of the gas leak, where the principal investigator Dr. NR Bhandari found that many adverse effects on health, such as delay in the development of certain areas of the brain in babies. However, Sarangi added, the study was soon shut down, before the babies being examined were 18 months old.The Sambhavana study came in the context of work done by health experts such as Dr Daya Verma, who passed away earlier this year.In a three year period Sambhavana has collected information on diagnosed cases of TB, Cancers, Paralysis, reproductive health of women, physical growth, mental and social development of infants and children and birth defects. It has looked at families exposed to the gas, families exposed to the contaminated water, families who later moved north of the plant and got exposed to the water, and unexposed families. It examined infants between 0-5 years of age and studied growth development and anthropometric measurements, such as height, leg length, hair, etc.Children born to exposed families were found being lighter, thinner and with smaller heads. Sambhavna says that its research workers have identified over 2500 children with possible birth defects in the study population over the past three years. Out of these over 1700 were diagnosed with congenital anomaly by 30 doctors from different parts of the country. These, Sarangi clarified, were only visible diagnosed malformations in children. Thus, many children could be living with as yet undiagnosed anomalies.Sarangi stressed that what these children needed was also medical intervention and aid to cope with their disabilities, and it was not enough to just identify the problem.

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Children with disabilities still born to Bhopal gas tragedy survivors