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Gulf War Vets Babies 50% more likely to have Birth Defects

A major Ministry of Defence-funded survey study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has found that babies whose fathers served in the first Gulf war are 50 per cent more likely to have physical abnormalities. They also found a 40 per cent increased risk of miscarriage among women whose partners served in the Gulf.

Increased risks of genital, urinary and renal abnormalities and deformed limbs, bones and muscles were found in the Ministry of Defence-funded survey. Of 13,191 pregnancies among the partners of male Gulf veterans, 686, or 5.2 per cent, had some form of physical abnormality, compared with 342, or 3.5 per cent, of the 9,758 non-Gulf pregnancies.

The survey didn’t find increased risks of other types of birth defects nor stillbirths among veteran pregnancies. Female veterans were also found to be at no greater risk of miscarriage.

The MoD have been hawking this study as the definitive study into pregnancy outcomes among veterans for some time so it was difficult for them to downplay it. Although they still tried: An MoD spokesman said: “It is important to note the researchers have cautioned that the findings may be susceptible to recall bias, and that it is a comparison with a control group in which miscarriage may have been under-reported.” Extensive recall bias in remembering your own children’s birth deformities seems a little far-fetched!

Similar evidence was found in US research from a Veterans Administration study, published within the last year, that shows children of Gulf War vets have twice the normal rate of birth defects. A US study released this month shows women who served in the first Gulf War suffered three times the normal rate of miscarriages in the period just after the conflict.

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003