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Ann Epidemiol. 2001 Oct;11(7):504-11.

Pregnancy outcomes among U.S. Gulf War veterans: a population-based survey of 30,000 veterans.

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  • 1Environmental Epidemiology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 1120 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.



We evaluated an association between veterans' Gulf War service and reported adverse pregnancy outcomes.


We conducted a health survey in which selected reproductive outcomes of a population-based sample of 15,000 Gulf War veterans representing four military branches and three unit components (active, reserve, and National Guard) were compared to those of 15,000 non-Gulf veteran controls.


Male Gulf veterans, compared with their non-Gulf veteran controls, reported a significantly higher rate of miscarriage (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.32-1.99). Female Gulf veterans also reported more miscarriages than their respective controls, although their excess was not statistically significant (OR= 1.35; CI = 0.97-1.89). Both men and women deployed to the Gulf theater reported significant excesses of birth defects among their liveborn infants. These excess rates also extended to the subset of "moderate to severe" birth defects [males: OR= 1.78 (CI = 1.19-2.66); females: OR = 2.80 (CI = 1.26-6.25)]. No statistically significant differences by deployment status were found among men or women for stillbirths, pre-term deliveries or infant mortality.


The risk of veterans reporting birth defects among their children was significantly associated with veteran's military service in the Gulf War. This observation needs to be confirmed by a review of medical records to rule out possible reporting bias.

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