VA study of medical records on birth defects (was Re: [ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war)

James Salsman james at
Mon Jul 24 00:25:48 CDT 2006

Dear Colonel Daxon:

I can find no record of the study you cited.  Google searches on
several substrings such as "BDRA-03-0072", "Children of Gulf War
Veterans: a pediatric evaluation", "787 children of Gulf War era",
and the like turn up no such report.  Neither does a PubMed search
of the peer-reviewed medical literature. The quoted conclusions are 
directly at odds with the November, 2003 Department of Veterans 
Affairs "Gulf War Review" which published this quote on page 10:

"Dr. Kang found that male Gulf War veterans reported having infants
with likely birth defects at twice the rate of non-veterans.
Furthermore, female Gulf War veterans were almost three times more
likely to report children with birth defects than their non-Gulf
counterparts. The numbers changed somewhat with medical records
verification. However, Dr. Kang and his colleagues concluded that
the risk of birth defects in children of deployed male veterans
still was about 2.2 times that of non-deployed veterans."

What year was that from?

James Salsman

Eric Daxon wrote:

> I did not make it up.  Here is the conclusion paragraph from the abstract of
> the study I mentioned in a personal email to Carlos Billing.  I assume he
> forwarded the email to you: 
> "CONCLUSIONS: We did not find a statistically significant association
> between the parents' Gulf War service and the risk of birth defects in their
> children. The limited statistical power of the study requires that the
> results be considered tentative and interpreted cautiously."
> Citation: Kang, H et al., "Birth Defects Among Children of Gulf War
> Veterans: a pediatric evaluation of 787 children of Gulf War era veterans,"
> BDRA-03-0072, Department of Veterans Affairs, Vermont Avenue, Wash, D.C.
> Here is the first paragraph of a more recent review article:
> "In this review we summarize the scientific literature on reproductive
> health following deployment to the first Gulf war by armed service
> personnel. All the studies examined had methodological limitations, making
> interpretation difficult. Nonetheless we conclude that for male veterans
> there is no strong or consistent evidence to date for an effect of service
> in the first Gulf war on the risk of major, clearly defined, birth defects
> or stillbirth in offspring conceived after deployment. Effects on specific
> rare defects cannot be excluded at this stage since none of the studies had
> the statistical power to examine them. For miscarriage and infertility,
> there is some evidence of small increased risks associated with service, but
> the role of bias is likely to be strong. For female veterans, there is
> insufficient information to make robust conclusions, although the weight of
> evidence to date does not indicate any major problem associated specifically
> with deployment to the Gulf. None of the studies have been able to examine
> risk according particular exposures, and so possible associations with
> specific exposures for smaller groups of exposed veterans cannot be
> excluded."
> Doyle, P, et al. "Reproductive Health of Gulf War Veterans," Phil. Trans. R.
> Soc. B (2006) 361, 571-584.
> Eric Daxon
> -----Original Message-----
> From: James Salsman [mailto:james at] 
> Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 2:25 AM
> To: Eric D; radsafe at
> Subject: Re: VA study of medical records on birth defects (was Re: [ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war)
> Dear Colonel Daxon:
> If you stand by your statements that the Veterans' Administration
> "found that Gulf War veterans REPORTED more birth defects than
> non-Gulf War Veterans. When they actually did the study and examined
> the medical records, the birth defect rates were equal to the normal
> population rates," and, "the paper that found that the birth defect
> rates were equivalent did not receive much press," then why are you
> unable or unwilling to provide a citation to the paper?
> Surely you would want such a paper to get more press, and to be
> well-known within the RADSAFE community?
> Or did you just make it up?
> Sincerely,
> James Salsman
> On 6/27/06, Eric D <edaxon at> wrote:
>> Mr. Salsman,
>> I stand by my statements.
>> VR
>> Eric Daxon
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: James Salsman [mailto:james at]
>> Sent: Monday, June 26, 2006 11:41 PM
>> To: Eric D
>> Cc: 'Carlos Billings'; Ryan, Margaret CDR; 'Roger Helbig'
>> Subject: [SPAM]Re: [ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war
>> Dear Colonel Daxon:
>> Which study are you referring to?
>> Ryan and Doyle in "Reproductive health of Gulf War veterans,"
>> Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2006) 361:571
>> mention no such review of medical records.  I have been begging
>> Dr. Ryan for such a review for over a year.  When she refused,
>> I filed a FOIA request which was denied on privacy grounds, even
>> though I requested redacting.  I appealed but I'm beginning to
>> suspect my appeal must have been "lost."  That Ryan and Doyle
>> (2006) paper is the one where they call the near-doubling of
>> birth defects reported in the children of males "evidence of a
>> modest increase in risk" and omit all mention of the children of
>> females, which were reported as nearly tripling in the same
>> source.  I am sure they would have mentioned such a study.
>> Citation, please.
>> Sincerely,
>> James Salsman
>>> No, not in the doses our soldiers received.  Unfortunately there is a
>>> natural incidence of birth defects and the doses that our soldiers
>>> received (both from a radiological stand point and a chemical) are too
>>> low.  I want to provide you a little more information on the study the
>>> VA did because it was and still is a great source of misunderstanding.
>>> They found that Gulf War veterans *REPORTED* more birth defects than
>>> non-Gulf War Veterans. When they actually did the study and examined the
>>> medical records, the birth defect rates were equal to the normal
>>> population rates.
>>> I have a talk that I have been presenting to scientific societies that
>>> addresses the harm that these kinds of papers can bring.  Oddly, the
>>> paper that found that the birth defect rates were equivalent did not
>>> receive much press.
>>> Eric
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Carlos Billings [mailto:billingsauto at]
>>> Sent: Sunday, June 25, 2006 5:20 PM
>>> To: Eric D
>>> Cc: James Salsman; alexandc at; Roger Helbig
>>> Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war
>>> Thanks Eric
>>> Well, what do you say is causing the birth defects?   I follow what
>>> your saying about accurate but misleading-how does that apply, Im not
>>> sure a lot of people who think that uranium is a problem, and a lot of
>>> people don't, and some of them have proved it in court, and some of
>>> them havent.
>>> Roger Helbig says you are the real expert-so do you think uranium is
>>> causing birth defects?
>>> Carlos
>>> On 6/25/06, Eric D <edaxon at> wrote:
>>>> Carlos,
>>>> I have run into this type of message and statement many times in the 20
>>>> years that I did depleted uranium health physics and research as an Army
>>>> Officer.  Just to provide you with a little of my background.  I have a
>>>> Masters Degree in Nuclear Engineering from MIT, A PhD in Radiation Hygiene
>>>> (the medical and public health part of health physics).  I am also a
>>>> Certified Health Physicist.
>>>> My experience with the kind of message below came when I became the DoD
>>>> spokesperson for the medical and health physics aspects of DU.  Activists
>>>> attacked the well-founded conclusions the DoD drew in one of two ways.
>>>> Either I was called a liar or the DoD conclusions were refuted with
>>>> statements that were "cherry-picked" from reports and placed in a sequence
>>>> to support the conclusion the author wanted rather than the conclusions
>>>> intended by the report or more importantly the conclusions that would be
>>>> drawn from considering the totality of the literature.  Placing the
>>>> statements below in the proper context would take volumes.
>>>> This is hard to explain and here is a true story that I use to illustrate
>>>> the "cherry-pick" technique:
>>>> Cherry-picked story:
>>>> " I am a good harmonica player and I am currently in a band.  I signed a
>>>> recording contract in Nashville. My first release was so popular, you
>>>> can't get it any more. I actually played the Grand Old Opry."
>>>> All of the statements above are true.  Complete story:
>>>> "I am a good harmonica player and I am in a band.  The band is a hobby and
>>>> we do a lot of charity work in the local San Antonio. My wife and I went 
>>>> on a vacation and stopped in Nashville. I signed a recording contract in
>>>> Nashville.  It was with one of those tourist-traps, a street-side recording
>>>> studio.  I paid the person $20 and he let me record for 10 minutes. He gave
>>>> me one CD cassette and I gave it to my wife which means you can't get it 
>>>> any more.  On a walking tour of the Grand Old Opry, I got up on stage and
>>>> played."
>>>> Each of the cherry-picked statements are accurate but convey a completely
>>>> inaccurate message.
>>>> I noticed in another message, you asked Mr. Salsman why he is doing
>>>> this.  I can't speak for him.  I am doing this because the type of 
>>>> miss-information conveyed by the message below is causing harm to the
>>>> soldiers and the families I worked to help my entire career.  It is 
>>>> diverting medical attention, congress's attention and research dollars
>>>> from projects that would actually help these fine people.
>>>> If you really want to help you friend as I do.  Please refer him to the
>>>> nearest VA or DoD medical facility.
>>>>  Eric Daxon
>>>> It is diverting legislative energy
>>>> This is what has occurred below.  As I have already said Expensive
>>>> research has been done on DU since the early
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: James Salsman [mailto:james at]
>>>> Sent: Saturday, June 24, 2006 3:23 PM
>>>> To: Eric D
>>>> Cc: Carlos Billings; alexandc at; radsafe at
>>>> Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war
>>>> Dear Colonel Daxon:
>>>> I apologize for not completely representing your comments.
>>>> I did not understand some of them because they were so brief.
>>>> What part of my message to Carlos Billings is incorrect?
>>>> In particular, do you disagree with any of the following
>>>> points?  I believe these all are well-supported, and as-yet
>>>> undisputed facts:
>>>> 1.  Uranium combustion from munitions fires such as those
>>>> from 30mm DU rounds occurs above 2500 Kelvin and directly
>>>> produces uranium dioxide (UO2) and trioxide (UO3) gas.
>>>> 2.  Much of both of the uranium oxide gases condense into
>>>> particulate aerosol and dust solids.
>>>> 3.  When UO3 gas condenses, it decomposes into U3O8, which
>>>> comprises 75% of solid uranium combustion product.  (UO2
>>>> particulates comprise the remainder.)
>>>> 4.  Some of the UO3 gas escapes into the air, before it can
>>>> condense with other UO3 molecules to form U3O8.
>>>> 5.  Some of the UO3 plates out on surfaces, e.g., as
>>>> detected in the swabs collected by Salbu et al. (2005).
>>>> 6.  Nobody has ever measured the gas products of uranium
>>>> combustion.  So far, only the solid combustion products have
>>>> been measured.
>>>> 7.  UO3 gas inhalation and U3O8 particulate inhalation will
>>>> both lead to uranyl ion absorption in the bloodstream.
>>>> 8.  Uranyl absorption from UO3 gas inhalation is immediate,
>>>> while absorption from U3O8 particles is much slower, because
>>>> U3O8 is partially soluble and takes months for half of it to
>>>> dissolve in the lungs.
>>>> 9.  The particulate aerosols diffuse through the air at a
>>>> different rate than UO3 gas.  Therefore, UO3 gas exposure
>>>> will not always occur simultaneously with particulate oxide
>>>> exposure.
>>>> 10.  Uranyl ions absorbed by cells from the bloodstream
>>>> soon become undetectable in the urine, as renal elimination
>>>> occurrs with a half-time of less than two weeks.
>>>> 11.  Since UO3 gas may be encountered without particulates,
>>>> urine isotope ratio studies which depend on detecting
>>>> uranium from slowly dissolving uranium oxide particles do
>>>> not necessarily indicate uranium combustion product
>>>> inhalation exposure, or the extent of uranyl poisoning.
>>>> 12.  The toxicological profile of uranyl poisoning is
>>>> dependent on elimination effects, such that a small dose
>>>> occurring quickly (such as from UO3 gas) will have a
>>>> different physiological effect than from a larger dose
>>>> occurring over a longer a period of time (such as from U3O8
>>>> particle dissolution in the lungs.)
>>>> 13.  All uranyl poisoning is genotoxic and teratogenic,
>>>> increasing the probability of chromosome aberrations in
>>>> white blood cells and birth defects in children.
>>>> 14.  Karyotyping measurements of chromosome aberrations will
>>>> proportionally reflect uranyl exposure, in addition to other
>>>> genetic damage.
>>>> 15.  Empirical measurement of the amount of UO3 gas produced
>>>> by uranium combustion is necessary for determining the proper
>>>> medical response to uranium combustion product exposure.
>>>> For those items with which you do disagree, please let me know
>>>> why.  Based on the content of your earlier messages, where
>>>> exactly we disagree is currently a mystery to me.  Thank you.
>>>> Sincerely,
>>>> James Salsman
>>>>> Unfortunately Mr. Salsman did not relate the main thrust of my comments
>>>>> and Dr. Alexander's comments concerning UO3.  I do not agree that UO3 is
>>>>> an issue for reasons that I have already discussed.  DoD did look for and
>>>>> found trace amounts of UO3 as expected.  I have read the references
>>>>> quoted below and they support my conclusions and the findings in the DoD
>>>>> Capstone report.
>>>>> The message conveyed by the remainder of Mr. Salzman's post is incorrect
>>>>> and at odds with what we know about uranium and depleted uranium.  This
>>>>> subject has been studied since the late 1940's.
>>>>> If your friend has concerns about his exposure, the Department of Veterans
>>>>> Affairs and the Department of Defense have programs that can provide
>>>>> information and assistance.  I helped put them together.
>>>>> v/r
>>>>> Eric Daxon, PhD, CHP
>>>>> Colonel, USA(Ret)

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