WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 -- New medical studies conclude that Gulf War illness is actually three syndromes caused by lasting neurological damage from chemical exposure and that some soldiers who fought in Iraq have suffered lasting nerve damage. The findings, to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, are a departure from previous studies that indicated there was no specific syndrome linked to the troops' illnesses.
The research by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas finds several sources contributed to the veterans' health problems, including low-level exposure to pesticides and chemical weapons and, ironically, reactions to pills intended to counter the effects of chemical agents. Gulf War veterans who suffered illnesses after the 1991 conflict contend that their ailments stem from exposure to chemical weapons. The Pentagon acknowledges that some troops may have suffered low-level exposure to nerve agents, but no studies thus far have linked the veterans' symptoms to chemical weapons. The UT Southwestern study stresses that its research does not prove such a link. Of 249 veterans studied, 25 percent fit into one of three syndromes. One group suffers memory loss, fatigue, slurred speech and migraine-like headaches. The second has experienced dizziness, trouble with reasoning and short attention spans. Those in the third group experienced numbness in their hands and feet and muscle and joint fatigue. ---
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