Twenty-five years after the end of the Gulf War, female veterans continue to report symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome at nearly double the rate of non-deployed females. This is according to a recent study found in the Journal of Women’s Health.
Female Gulf War veterans reported higher symptoms of neurological/cognitive/mood and respiratory disorders considered to be hallmarks of Gulf War Syndrome. Compared to their female non-deployed counterparts, they reported symptoms of difficulty breathing or shortness of breath at almost twice the rate. The study generally showed strong associations between deployment status and respiratory symptoms. Female Gulf War veterans also reported higher rates of difficult concentrating and difficulty remembering recent information. Over a third reported symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
“It’s been over 25 years since the war ended and these are very persistent health outcomes,” says Dr. Steven S. Coughlin, interim chief of the Division of Epidemiology in the Medical College of Georgia Department of Population Health Sciences. “This tells us that the way the Gulf War illness manifests itself may be different in female than male veterans, so it’s important to take gender into account,” says Coughlin.
Female veterans reported similar symptoms twenty years ago, soon after their redeployment. One notable finding of the study, however, is that these veterans are showing increased frequency of these symptoms over time.