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Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Sep 1;154(5):399-405.

Mortality among US veterans of the Persian Gulf War: 7-year follow-up.

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  • 1Environmental Epidemiology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC 20036, USA.


To assess the long-term health consequences of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the authors compared cause-specific mortality rates of 621,902 Gulf War veterans with those of 746,248 non-Gulf veterans, by gender, with adjustment for age, race, marital status, branch of service, and type of unit. Vital status follow-up began with the date of exit from the Persian Gulf theater (Gulf veterans) or May 1, 1991 (control veterans). Follow-up for both groups ended on the date of death or December 31, 1997, whichever came first. Cox proportional hazards models were used for the multivariate analysis. For Gulf veterans, mortality risk was also assessed relative to the likelihood of exposure to nerve gas at Khamisiyah, Iraq. Among Gulf veterans, the significant excess of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents that was observed during the earlier postwar years had decreased steadily to levels found in non-Gulf veterans. The risk of death from natural causes remained lower among Gulf veterans compared with non-Gulf veterans. This was mainly accounted for by the relatively higher number of deaths related to human immunodeficiency virus infection among non-Gulf veterans. There was no statistically significant difference in cause-specific mortality among Gulf veterans relative to potential nerve gas exposure. The risk of death for both Gulf veterans and non-Gulf veterans stayed less than half of that expected in their civilian counterparts. The authors conclude that the excess risk of mortality from motor vehicle accidents that was associated with Gulf War service has dissipated after 7 years of follow-up.

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