[ RadSafe ] response to allegations and news: Vets plus DU plus the Law

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Thu Mar 23 18:15:19 CST 2006

March 23

To all:

         On March 20, James Salsman wrote:

         “The Mississippi study cited is flawed; this one is better, and 
from the same time period: "Prevalence of Birth Defects Among Infants of 
Gulf War Veterans in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, and 
Iowa, 1989­1993," by M.R.G. "Happy" Araneta, et al., in _Birth Defects 
Research (Part A)_, vol. 67, pp. 246­260 (2003.)


(end quote)

         I have read the Araneta et al. study and will present some quotes 
from it (with page numbers) and some brief comments of my own.  Keep in 
mind that Salsman has consistently claimed on RADSAFE that depleted uranium 
is the cause of birth defects and of other maladies suffered by Gulf War 

         The Introduction to the Araneta study (p. 246) say:  “The 
teratogenic effects of myriad exposures [to Gulf War veterans], including 
petroleum solutions, insecticides, arthropod-borne pathogens, sarin, 
mustard gas, prophylactic drugs such as pyridostigmine bromide, and other 
medications and vaccines administered to Gulf War veterans (GWV) are 
unclear [citation omitted].”  Note that DU is conspicuous by its 
absence.  In fact, DU is not mentioned anywhere in the Araneta et al. paper.

         On page 254, under the subheading “Adjusted Prevalence,” the 
authors write, “The increased prevalence of tricuspid valve insufficiency 
and aortic valve stenosis among infants conceived postwar to male GWVs did 
not differ significantly” when adjusted for twelve factors (such as age, 
race, or education).  (Tricuspid valve insufficiency and aortic valve 
stenosis were two of the birth defects studied in the Araneta et al. 
paper.)  The authors continue, “Known risk factors for cardiovascular 
defects are few and include maternal diabetes mellitus, rubella, fever, and 
the absence of periconceptional multivitamin use [citation omitted].”  They 
note that exposure to ionizing radiation has been associated with "selected 
cardiovascular defects” but so have welding and paint stripping.

         Some of the other birth defects seen in GWV babies could be 
accounted for by adjusting for various socio-economic or heath factors, and 
some could not be accounted for by making such adjustments (p. 
254-256).  Some of the birth defects have many causes, and some of the 
causes appear to be only hypothetical.

         Also:  “Etiologic [causative] factors and confounders associated 
with the reported birth defects trends could not be identified because the 
study was designed to measure birth defects prevalence.  . . .  “Unlike 
chemical defoliants like Agent Orange, a teratogen in laboratory animals, . 
. . there is currently no single, recognized teratogen that can be measured 
precisely among Gulf War veterans.”  (p. 256)  That is to say, this study 
was about the incidence of birth defects, and did not address causes; and 
there is (it appears) no recognized teratogen among the Gulf War vets.

         In their discussion of the study’s statistical power, the authors 
say, “The sample size was sufficient to compare the combined birth defects 
prevalence (power = 99%), but it was insufficient for less frequent 
individual component defects.  . . .  A minimum sample of 257 sons 
conceived postwar to women GWVs were [sic] needed to compare the risk of 
hypospadias with sufficient statistical power (80% at [alpha] = 0.05), 
however, there were only 154 sons conceived postwar to women 
GWVs.  Similarly, a sample of 6373 GWV postwar births were needed to 
adequately compare the risk of tricuspid valve insufficiency, instead of 
the 4648 GWV postwar births available.”  (p. 258)

         The Conclusions say, “We did not, however, have the ability to 
determine if the excess [of birth defects] was caused by inherited, 
environmental, or synergistic factors, or was due to chance.”  (p. 259)

My Comments:

         This study has its merits, but the authors go into some detail 
about its limitations.  It discussed and evaluated frequency of birth 
defects, but did not attempt to explain why they occurred, nor could 
it.  The study said nothing about depleted uranium, so it does nothing to 
advance (or to set back) James Salsmans’ anti-DU agenda.

Steven Dapra
sjd at swcp.com

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