Children of Gulf War Veterans More Likely to Report Birth Defects
Children born to Gulf War veterans are two to three times more likely to have birth defects than those born to other veterans, according to a survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Johns Hopkins University, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The survey also found Gulf War veterans had more miscarriages. For the survey, published in the October issue of the Annals of Epidemiology, about 21,000 "gulf and non-gulf" veterans answered questionnaires about their health, reproductive outcomes and other issues. Han Kang, a VA epidemiologist and the lead researcher, said, "Veterans are very concerned that they have a higher risk of bearing children with birth defects. There are two or three studies that tried to address that concern and did not find any evidence of that and now we are reporting at least a strong possibility of that happening." The AP/Inquirer reports that earlier studies that examined hospital records found "no unusual risk of birth problems" among Gulf War veterans. About 90,000 Gulf War veterans have complained of "maladies" including memory loss, fatigue, nausea and muscle and joint pain, which have collectively become known as Gulf War Syndrome. Critics of the new study say that since the results are based on veterans' opinions and not hospital records, the results may be skewed by publicity about Gulf War Syndrome. Although Kang said the results were not influenced by publicity, researchers are checking the veterans' reports against hospital records (Gamboa, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.