Prevalence of chronic fatigue & chemical sensitivities in Gulf Registry – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome related research

More than 68000 of the 700000 veterans of the Gulf War have

become members of the Veteran Affairs’ Gulf War Registry. In

1995, we undertook a questionnaire study of the symptoms and

medical histories reported by a randomly selected subsample of

1935 of these veterans to characterize their complaints. All

results reported were based on questionnaire responses without

face-to-face evaluation or physical examinations. Inasmuch as

initial registry symptoms overlapped those of Chronic Fatigue

Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, we also included

standard questions for these syndromes in the questionnaire.

A

total of 1161 (60%) individuals responded, and there were no

major demographic biases; therefore, 15.7% of registry

veterans qualified for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in accordance

with the 1994 Centers for Disease Control definition. In

addition, 13.1% qualified for multiple chemical sensitivities

in accordance with a widely used definition, and 3.3% of the

respondents had both conditions. There were no effects of

gender, race, branch, duty status (active or reserve), or

rank, although Multiple Chemical Sensitivities was somewhat

more prevalent in women and African Americans.

The data

gleaned in this study suggested that the unexplained symptom

syndromes of Chronic Fatigue and Multiple Chemical

Sensitivities may characterize an appreciable portion of the

complaints of those who volunteered for the Veterans Affairs’

Gulf War Registry, and further investigation is warranted.

Kipen HM, Hallman W, Kang H, Fiedler N, Natelson BH

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