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Study: More birth defects found in Gulf War babies

December 8, 1997
Web posted at: 7:48 p.m. EST (0048 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new study by federal researchers has found that babies born to Gulf War veterans suffer a greater number of certain kinds of birth defects than children of non-Gulf War veterans.

While the authors of the study caution that the findings are inconclusive, the research finds that babies of Gulf War veterans are more likely to suffer from Goldenhar syndrome, which causes malformations of the eyes, jaw and spine.

The study was conducted by medical researchers with the Naval Health Research Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study included more than 75,000 babies born after the Gulf War, both to Gulf War veterans as well as service personnel who were not sent to the Gulf War. All of the children involved in the study were conceived after the Gulf War and were born in military hospitals before October 1, 1993.

Of the 75,414 babies in the study, researchers found seven cases of Goldenhar syndrome -- two in babies of non-Gulf War veterans and five in babies of veterans of the war.

Those numbers translate into an incidence rate of 4.8 per 100,000 cases for non-Gulf War veterans' babies, versus 14.7 per 100,000 for babies of Gulf War veterans.

The study, which was published in the December 1 issue of the journal Teratology, concludes: "Because of the small number of cases found by the study, the statistical precision of the study is low, and it is not possible to conclude solely from this study whether there is a higher, or lower, risk for Goldenhar syndrome among infants of Gulf War veterans."

A study published in 1996 in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded there was no greater incidence of birth defects in the offspring of Gulf War veterans than in non-Gulf War veterans.

Military Affairs Producer Chris Plante contributed to this report.


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