View Full Version : Birth Defects Seen in Gulf War Vets' Kids

06-03-03, 09:09 PM
Birth Defects Seen in Gulf War Vets' Kids

This is all over the wires:
Posted on Tue, Jun. 03, 2003

Birth Defects Seen in Gulf War Vets' Kids
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Children of veterans of the first Gulf War are more likely
to have three specific birth defects than those of soldiers who never
served in the gulf, a government study has found.

Researchers found the infants born to male veterans of the 1991 war had
higher rates of two types of heart valve defects. They also found a
higher rate of a genital urinary defect in boys conceived after the war
to Gulf War veteran mothers.

In addition, Gulf War veterans' children born after the war had a
certain kidney defect that was not found in Gulf War veterans' children
born before the war.

The researchers said they did not have enough information to link the
birth defects to possible exposures to poisonous gases, pesticides and
other toxic substances, which many Gulf War veterans suspect are
culprits of their mysterious illnesses and their children's health
problems. They also did not have access to parents' family histories and
job exposures.

The study by the Department of Defense Naval Health Research Center and
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined birth defect data
from 1989-93.

In all, researchers identified 11,961 children born to Gulf War veterans
and 33,052 children of veterans who had not been deployed in the Gulf.
Of those, 450 had mothers who served in the Gulf and 3,966 had
non-deployed mothers.

They found four sons of female Gulf War veterans - a 6.5 percent higher
rate than nondeployed female veterans - with a condition known as
hypospaedia. Boys born with the condition have urethra openings located
in the middle or the back of the penis.

In postwar conceived infants of male Gulf War veterans, researchers
found 10 children with tricuspid valve insufficiency, a 2.7 percent
higher rate, and five with aortic valve spinosis, 6 percent higher. Both
are conditions in which heart valves do not function properly.

Five postwar children of male Gulf War veterans had renal aegenisis, a
condition in which part of the kidney fails to grow and develop

"It will be worthwhile to explore the causal relationship between
wartime exposure, the occurrence of the four specific defects and the
exposures of Gulf War veterans," said Dr. Maria Rosa Araneta, a
perinatal epidemiologist teaching at the University of California, San
Diego. She worked for the naval center when the study was conducted.

The study was published in the April edition of Birth Defects Research.

Researchers continue to hunt for possible causes of the illnesses
experienced by thousands of veterans from the first Gulf War. Many vets
have complained of chronic fatigue, migraines, balance problems, chronic
joint pain and other symptoms. Some veterans were more likely to report
birth defects in their offspring in a 2001 Veterans Affairs study.

Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of the Pentagon's Deployment
Health Support office, said the study "should not be used to say we
found an answer."

The study did not find significant increases in rates of multiple birth
defects in Gulf War veterans' children, he noted. But Araneta said
differences are usually found when specific forms of a disease are
studied, such as breast cancer rates versus overall cancer rates.

The authors' also said in the study, larger sample sizes were needed for
individual, less frequent birth defects, which Kilpatrick also noted.

Decades after the Vietnam War, Veterans Affairs provided health care and
compensation for some Vietnam veterans' children with certain birth

"We think they should do the same for Gulf War veterans. These children
have very serious and extraordinary problems and families have broken up
over it," said Betty Mekdeci, executive director of the Association for
Birth Defects Children.

CDC researcher Larry Edmonds said the study also demonstrates the value
of statewide birth defects registries. Currently, 11 states have
"active" registries in which a public nurse looks at several sources for
comprehensive data on children with birth defects.


On the Net: Birth Defects Research, Inc.: http://www.birthdefects.org/

Naval Health Research Center: http://www.nhrc.navy.mil/splash/home.html