Canadian Gulf War vets report similar symptoms at same frequency says study


WASHINGTON, November 22, 1999 (GulfLINK) - Canadian Gulf War veterans are reporting similar symptoms at about the same frequency as United States and British Gulf War veterans, survey said.

In 1997, the Canadian Department of National Defense retained Goss Gilroy, Inc. to conduct a health survey of Canadian Forces personnelcompare Gulf War veterans with both service members who served in other theaters and the civilian population. The information appears to parallel studies done by the Center for Disease Control and the British military that showed Gulf War veterans reporting symptoms at a rate three times higher than service members deploying elsewhere.

The report concluded that, in comparison with the control group, Canadian Gulf War veterans reported a higher prevalence of symptoms of chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, multiple chemical sensitivity, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic dysphoria, anxiety, fibromyalgia and respiratory diseases. Further, combined health outcomes are distributed among many Gulf War veterans. The report also found a higher prevalence of reported birth defects of babies of Gulf War veterans conceived before, during and after the Gulf War.

"The report did not shed any new light on the causes of Gulf War illnesses," said Doctor Michael Kilpatrick, Deputy Director, Medical Outreach and Issues Division, at the office for the special assistance for Gulf War illnesses. "It did help confirm that the symptoms are present in greater numbers among Gulf War veterans."

The survey data was collected from June to September 1997. Goss Gilroy mailed surveys to all Gulf War veterans and a comparison group of similar Canadian Force personnel - the control group - selected from the Department of National Defense human resource files. Of the 9,947 surveys mailed, 3,113 Gulf War veterans and 3, 439 from the control group responded. The overall response rate, 64.5 percent, was made up of 73 percent of Gulf War veterans, and a control response rate of 60.3 percent. The information for the civilian population was drawn from the 1990 Ontario Health Survey.

The entire report is based on survey responses without confirmation of the information provided. It is different from the CDC and British studies because there were no medical exams or testing completed.

The survey offers the opportunity for more focused research. "By looking at the differences in vaccinations given, which veterans took Pyridostigmine Bromide, and the exposures based on location in the theater," said Kilpatrick, "it may be possible to do collaborative studies to help understand if any one exposure can be associated with symptoms." Kilpatrick noted that a joint team of Canadians, British and United States scientists is currently trying to make a comparison of the information available.