Birth defects prevalence among infants of Persian Gulf War veterans born in Hawaii, 1989-1993.
BACKGROUND: Gulf War veterans (GWVs) have expressed concern about possible teratogenic exposures. However, epidemiologic studies on birth defects prevalence among their progeny have been limited to military hospitals, anomalies diagnosed among newborns, or self-reported data. To measure the prevalence of selected birth defects among infants of GWVs and nondeployed veterans (NDVs) in Hawaii, using birth defects surveillance records. METHODS: Personal identifiers of 684,645 GWVs and 1,587,102 NDVs and their families were matched against birth certificate records of 99,545 live births reported to the State of Hawaii Department of Health between 1989 and 1993 to identify births to military personnel. These births were matched with records from the Hawaii Birth Defects Program. RESULTS: A total of 17,182 military infants (3,717 GWV infants and 13,465 NDV infants) were identified. Of these, 367 infants (2.14/100 live births) were identified with one or more of 48 major birth defects diagnoses. The prevalence of the 48 birth defects were similar for GWV and NDV infants during the prewar and postwar periods, and among GWV infants who were conceived before and after the Gulf war. CONCLUSIONS: The results must be interpreted with caution because of the small number of affected infants in each birth defects category. This study demonstrated the feasibility of measuring birth defects prevalence among military infants through multiple data linkage. Further, it included live births to parents who had separated from the military, births in civilian hospitals, and birth defects diagnosed through the first year of life.
Araneta, MR; Destiche, DA; Schlangen, KM; Merz, RD; Forrester, MB; Gray, GC
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