Physical health, behavioral and emotional functioning in children of gulf war veterans

Document Type


Publication Title

Life Sciences


Objective: We examined whether the prevalence of medical and behavioral conditions is higher in children of deployed veterans (DVs) versus non-deployed veterans (NDVs) after the 1991 Gulf War.

Methods: We examined 1387 children of 737 veterans. Children ages 2-18 had physical exams and parental reports of physical history and behavior.

Results: Physical health was analyzed using GEE models. Behavioral health [total, internalizing, and externalizing behavior problems (TBP, IBP, EBP)] was analyzed with mixed-effects regression models. Analyses were conducted by age group (2-3, 4-11, 12-18), and gender (ages 4-11, 12-18). Children of DVs ages 2-3 had significantly worse dentition (13.9% vs. 4.8%, P = 0.03) and more EBP {least square means (lsmeans) 54.31 vs. 47.59, P = 0.02}. Children of DVs ages 4-11 had significantly more obesity (18.8% vs. 12.7%, P = 0.02). Among children 4-11, male children of DVs had significantly more TBP (lsmeans 70.68 vs. 57.34, P = 0.003), IBP (lsmeans 63.59 vs. 56.16, P = 0.002) and EBP (lsmeans 61.60 vs. 52.93, P = 0.03), but female children did not. For children ages 12-18, male children of DVs had more EBP (lsmeans 63.73 vs. 43.51, P = 0.008), while female children of DVs had fewer EBP (lsmeans 45.50 vs. 50.48, P = 0.02). Veteran military characteristics and mental health, and children's social status and health, including obesity, predicted children's TBP for one or more age groups.

Conclusions: Children of DVs experienced worse dentition, greater obesity, and more behavioral problems compared to NDV children, suggesting adverse health effects associated with parental deployment in need of further exploration.



Publication Date

Fall 10-1-2021