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Gulf War Illness-relatred Medical Research & Publications:
Reproductive Outcomes

Birth Defects Study of Veterans’ Children Shows No Linkage to Service in the Gulf

Penman, A.D. et al. No Evidence of Increase in Birth Defects and Health Problems Among Children Born to Persian Gulf War Veterans in Mississippi. Military Medicine 1996; 161: 1-6. This is a study of children born to veterans from two Mississippi National Guard units which had deployed to the Gulf War. In 1993 a Jackson newspaper reported an apparent cluster of birth defects and other health problems among children of unit members. The state and the CDC studied the 55 children who had been conceived and born to 52 veterans after the deployment. Using U.S. rates for birth defects as a comparison, the investigators could not verify the occurrence of birth defects above the frequency expected. The average number of medical visits for respiratory and ear infections did not appear to be excessive.

Cowan, D.N. et al. The Risk of Birth Defects Among Children of Persian Gulf War Veterans. New Engl J Med 1997; 336: 1650-1656. This study evaluated live births at 135 military hospitals in 1991-1993. 33,998 infants were born to GW veterans and 41,463 were born to a random sample of 700,000 Service members who did not deploy. The overall risk of any birth defect was 7.45 % and the risk of severe birth defects was 1.85 %. These rates are similar to those reported in civilian populations. In the multivariate analysis, there was no significant association for either men or women between service in the GW and the risk of any birth defect or of severe birth defects in their children. There was no evidence of reduced fertility and no significant differences in the sex ratios of the babies.

Araneta, M.R.G. et al. Goldenhar Syndrome Among Infants Born in Military Hospitals to Gulf War Veterans. Teratology 1997; 56: 244-251. Because press reports in 1995 suggested an excess of a congenital malformation called Goldenhar syndrome among the children of Gulf War veterans (GWV), the authors searched for cases of this syndrome among infants conceived after the Gulf War and born to active duty military personnel in DoD hospitals. The offspring of all GWV were compared to those of a 50% sample of veterans who had not deployed to the Gulf (NDV). Seven children fulfilled the criteria for Goldenhar syndrome. Five were born to GWVs and 2 to NDVs. The prevalence was higher among GWVs’ infants, but the difference was not statistically significant.

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