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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 00:25 GMT
Gulf War 'link to miscarriages'
Pregnancy
There were differences in miscarriage rates
Women whose partners served in the Gulf in the early 1990s may have been more likely to suffer miscarriages in the years that followed, a study suggests.

But researchers have rejected claims their babies were more likely to have suffered birth defects.

They also found no evidence to suggest the women had higher stillbirth rates.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, are based on a survey of 44,000 British veterans and their families.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine questioned veterans who served in the Gulf between August 1990 and June 1991 as part of the Ministry of Defence funded study.

They also questioned armed forces personnel who were not sent to the Gulf.

More miscarriages

They found that women whose partners served in the Gulf were 40% more likely to have suffered a miscarriage before November 1997.

The finding backs up a similar study carried out on US veterans of the war, published in 2001.

We cannot at this stage conclude that there is a real link between miscarriage and a father's service in the Gulf War
Dr Pat Doyle
It found that women whose partners had served in the Gulf were 60% more likely to have suffered a miscarriage in the years that followed.

However, the researchers said women who served in the Gulf themselves did not appear to be at risk.

They said more research is needed to find out if women whose partners served in the war really were at higher risk.

"We cannot at this stage conclude that there is a real link between miscarriage and a father's service in the Gulf War," said Dr Pat Doyle, who led the study.

"This may be the result of underreporting of early miscarriages by the control group."

The researchers found evidence to suggest that children born to veterans were more likely to suffer malformations of genitals and the renal system.

However, they said overall there was "no strong evidence" of a link between deployment in the Gulf and birth defects.

"Overall, we found no evidence that service in the Gulf is linked to fathering children with most major defects and this will be reassuring to veterans and their families," said Dr Pat Doyle, who led the study.

However, the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association rejected the findings.

"We must remember that this is MoD-sponsored research," said Tony Flint, its spokesman.

"What we need is more in-depth studies to look at this and find out why these women are having more miscarriages."




SEE ALSO:
Gulf war compensation bid fails
05 Feb 04  |  Health
Jabs linked to Gulf War Syndrome
12 Jan 04  |  Health


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