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Birth defects in infants born in 1998–2004 to men and women serving in the U.S. military during the 1990–1991 Gulf War era


  • This represents report 11-25, supported by the Department of Defense, under work unit number 60504. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, or the U.S. Government. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. This research has been conducted in compliance with all applicable federal regulations governing the protection of human subjects in research (Protocol NHRC.1999.0003).

  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.



Concerns about reproductive health persist among U.S. military members who served in the 1990–1991 Gulf War. This study explores the long-term impact of 1990–1991 Gulf War deployment on the prevalence of birth defects among infants of Gulf War veterans.


Health care data from the Department of Defense Birth and Infant Health Registry and demographic and deployment information from the Defense Manpower Data Center were used to identify infants born between 1998 and 2004 to both male and female 1990–1991 Gulf War veterans. Multivariable logistic regression models estimated the adjusted odds of any birth defect and eight specific birth defects among infants of deployers versus non-deployers. In addition, birth defects were evaluated among infants born to 1990–1991 Gulf War veterans with deployment-specific exposures.


Among 178,766 infants identified for these analyses, 3.4% were diagnosed with a birth defect in the first year of life. Compared to infants of non-deployers, infants of deployers were not at increased odds of being diagnosed with a birth defect, or any of eight specific birth defects, in the first year of life. A slightly increased prevalence of birth defects was observed among infants born to men who deployed to the 1990–1991 Gulf War for 153 to 200 days compared to those who deployed for 1 to 92 days. No other deployment-specific exposures were associated with birth defects in these infants.


The 1990–1991 Gulf War deployers, including those with specific exposures of concern, were not found to be at increased risk for having infants with birth defects 7 to 14 years after deployment. Birth Defects Research (Part A) 94:721–728, 2012. Published 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.