[ RadSafe ] Gulf War birth defects (and MS study)

Dawson, Fred Mr Fred.Dawson199 at mod.uk
Mon Mar 27 02:33:13 CST 2006

FYI a link to the recent Royal society papers on Gulf War syndrome


Fred Dawson
Health Physics Assistant Director & Team Leader
Directorate of Safety & Claims
6-D-30 MOD Main Building
phone   (9621) 70215 MB
               020 7807 0215
mobile   07 973 169 338
email     dsc-hpad at mod.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Steven Dapra
Sent: 27 March 2006 00:29
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Gulf War birth defects (and MS study)

March 26

         About a week ago the subject of a study of Mississippi Gulf War

veterans was raised here.  This study was published in Military Medicine

[161(1):1-6; Jan. 1996].  (Authors are Alan Penman, Russel Tarver, and

         Of this study, James Salsman wrote, "The Mississippi study
is flawed; this one is better, and from the same time period."  [The 
"better" study is "Prevalence of Birth Defects Among Infants of Gulf War

Veterans in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, and Iowa, 
1989-1993," by M.R.G. Araneta, et al., in _Birth Defects Research (Part 
A)_, vol. 67, pp. 246-260 (2003.)]  On March 23 I asked Salsman (here,
by private e-mail), what was wrong with the MS study and why, but so far
has not replied.

         I have read the Mississippi (MS) study and will briefly discuss

it, and then discuss a 1997 study in the New England Journal of Medicine

(NEJOM) about birth defects in children of Gulf War veterans.

         The MS study grew out of anecdotal reports in the popular press

about supposed excesses of birth defects in children of two MS National 
Guard units after their return from the Persian Gulf.  The Jackson, MS, 
Department of Veterans' Affairs, the MS Dept. of Health, and the CDC 
conducted a "collaborative investigation" of these claims of excess
defects.  Ninety percent of the veterans were located, and 54 of their
children were studied.

         Instead of presenting a list of statistics, I will quote from
untitled abstract.  " . . . observed numbers of birth defects and other 
health problems were compared with expected numbers using rates from
defect surveillance systems and previous surveys.  The total number of
types of birth defects was not greater than expected, but whether the 
number of specific birth defects was greater than expected could not be 
determined.  The frequency of premature birth, low birth weight, and
health problems appeared similar to that in the general population."

         According to the Conclusions (p. 4), "Perhaps the most
finding is that a variety of birth defects was observed, and clustering
any one type or affected system did not occur.  Furthermore, no known 
genetic or chromosomal abnormality or teratogen is common to the various


         The study in the NEJOM by David Cowan, Ph. D., et al., 
[336(23):1650-1656; June 5, 1997] gave similar results.  This study 
"evaluated the routinely collected data on live births at 135 military 
hospitals in 1991, 1992, and 1993," and included 75,000 infants.  Of
33,998 were born to Gulf War vets, and 41,463 were born to non-deployed 
vets."  These were children of approximately 580,000 Gulf War veterans, 
with a control group of approximately 700,000 non-deployed veterans.

         "The overall risk of any birth defect was 7.45 percent, and the

risk of severe birth defects was 1.85 percent.  These rates are similar
those reported in civilian populations.  In the multivariate analysis, 
there was no significant association for either men or women between 
service in the Gulf War and the risk of any birth defect or of severe
defects in their children."  (From the Abstract.)

Steven Dapra
sjd at swcp.com

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