The researchers emphasized the uncertainty of their estimate, saying the true toll lies between 104,000 and 223,000, WHO said in a news release on its Web site.
"Assessment of the death toll in conflict situations is extremely difficult and household survey results have to be interpreted with caution," said study co-author Mohamed Ali, a WHO statistician who provided technical assistance for the survey. "However, in the absence of comprehensive death registration and hospital reporting, household surveys are the best we can do."
Naeema Al Gasseer, the WHO representative to Iraq, said the latest estimate is three times higher than the toll "detected through careful screening of media reports by the Iraq Body Count project and about four times lower than a smaller-scale household survey conducted earlier in 2006."
The total is based on information collected during a wider survey of family health in Iraq, WHO said. The survey findings, also published on the Web site of the New England Journal of Medicine, are based on information culled from interviews conducted in 9,345 households across Iraq.