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Health status of Vietnam veterans. II. Physical health. The Centers for Disease Control Vietnam experience study.

Annest JL; Barrett DH; Baughman AL; Boyle CA; Brann EA; Decoufle P; DeStefano F; Devine OJ; Flanders WD; Holmgreen P; Joesoef MR; Katz DF; Kresnow M; Morris RD; O'Brien TR; Scally MJ; Schrader SM; Stroup NE; Wetterhall SF; Worth RM
JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1988 May; 259(18):2708-2714
A study of the physical health status of Vietnam veterans was conducted as part of a multidimensional assessment of the health of Vietnam veterans. The cohort consisted of 7924 veterans who entered the United States Army (SIC-9711) during the period 1965 to 1971 who served in Vietnam and 7364 who did not serve in Vietnam. The subjects were given a questionnaire telephone interview that focused on current and past medical problems as well as socioeconomic and demographic factors. A total of 2490 Vietnam veterans and 1972 nonVietnam veterans were given detailed medical examinations. Semen samples were obtained from a subset of 324 Vietnam veterans and 247 nonVietnam veterans and evaluated. The age and racial characteristics of both groups were similar. Vietnam veterans reported their health as poor or fair more frequently than nonVietnam veterans, with incidence rates of 19.6 versus 11.1 percent. The medical examinations revealed few differences between the two groups. Vietnam veterans had higher prevalences of stool occult blood, left ventricular hypertrophy, hepatitis-B surface antigen, and hearing loss than nonVietnam veterans. Health conditions that could be related to dioxin or herbicide exposure were similar in both groups. Vietnam veterans had lower sperm concentrations and lower mean proportions of morphologically normal sperm cells than nonVietnam veterans; however, the proportion of motile sperm was similar in both groups. Both groups fathered similar numbers of children. The authors conclude that most Vietnam veterans who participated in the study feel they are in good health. Vietnam veterans more frequently report current and past health problems than nonVietnam veterans. Most of the conditions reported by the Vietnam veterans are not detectable by physical and clinical screening methods. Despite the differences in semen characteristics between Vietnam and nonVietnam veterans both groups have fathered similar numbers of children.
NIOSH-Author; Epidemiology; Military-personnel; Health-survey; Risk-analysis; Medical-examinations; Reproductive-system; Spermatogenesis
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Journal of the American Medical Association
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division