Childhood physical abnormalities following paternal exposure to sulfur mustard gas in Iran: a case-control study
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BACKGROUND: Mustard gas, a known chemical weapon, was used during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. We aimed to determine if exposure to mustard gas among men was significantly associated with abnormalities and disorders among progenies. METHODS: Using a case-control design, we identified all progenies of Sardasht men (exposed group, n = 498), who were born at least nine months after the exposure, compared to age-matched controls in Rabat, a nearby city (non-exposed group, n = 689). We conducted a thorough medical history, physical examination, and appropriate paraclinical studies to detect any physical abnormality and/or disorder. Given the presence of correlated data, we applied Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) multivariable models to determine associations. RESULTS: The overall frequency of detected physical abnormalities and disorders was significantly higher in the exposed group (19% vs. 11%, Odds Ratio [OR] 1.93, 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 1.37-2.72, P = 0.0002). This was consistent across sexes. Congenital anomalies (OR 3.54, 95% CI, 1.58-7.93, P = 0.002) and asthma (OR, 3.12, 95% CI, 1.43-6.80, P = 0.004) were most commonly associated with exposure. No single abnormality was associated with paternal exposure to mustard gas. CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates a generational effect of exposure to mustard gas. The lasting effects of mustard gas exposure in parents effects fertility and may impact child health and development in the long-term.
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