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Birth Defects

Q. Are birth defects higher in children born to Gulf War veterans?

A. On June 6, 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine provided the results of an epidemiologic study of more than 75,000 children of Gulf War veterans and other service members on active duty during the Gulf War. Evaluating data on all live births at 135 military hospitals in 1991, 1992, and 1993, this study found no overall increase in birth defects among children of Gulf War veterans.

The study provides strong scientific evidence that the children of Gulf War veterans are not more likely to suffer birth defects. We believe the work suggests that service in the Gulf War should not affect family planning or a veteran's decision on childbearing.

This is the second of seven studies which examine reproductive issues. You can read the study's abstract online. The complete article is available for $10, and the order form is available online.

Q. Is DoD sponsoring a national birth defects registry or tracking birth defects found in children of veterans?

A. The Department of Defense created the National Department of Defense Birth Defects Registry at the DoD Center for Deployment Health Research, Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, Calif. The registry, established Jan. 1, 1999, now maintains the health records of what has become a worldwide military birth surveillance program. The DoD registry gathers live birth information from all the uniformed services' DoD electronic inpatient and outpatient records. That includes all military facilities and data from civilian hospitals when the medical care is funded by TRICARE. You can read more about the program on the Internet.

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