Risk Factors Associated with Miscarriage and Impaired Fecundity among United States Servicewomen during the Recent Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Background Research on the reproductive health of U.S. servicewomen deployed in support of the recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is sparse. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether military experiences, including combat deployment, deployment length, and life stressors during the recent conflicts, were associated with increased odds for miscarriage or impaired fecundity among U.S. servicewomen. Methods We used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a large longitudinal military study that began in 2001 and includes military personnel from all service branches, including active duty and Reserve/National Guard personnel. Participants for this study included women aged 18 to 45 years who had completed two questionnaires (2004–2006 and 2007–2008). Separate multivariable logistic regression models were performed to estimate the odds of reporting miscarriage and impaired fecundity by military experiences that adjusted for covariates. Subanalyses were conducted using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification codes found in the Military Health System Data Repository for both outcomes among servicewomen on active duty. Results Overall, 31% and 11% of military servicewomen reported miscarriage and impaired fecundity, respectively, during the approximate 3-year follow-up period. After adjusting for demographic, behavioral, and military characteristics, deployment experiences and life stressors were not associated with miscarriage or perceived impaired fecundity. Subanalyses using medical record data confirmed these results. Conclusions Overall, these results suggest that military deployments do not increase risk for miscarriage and impaired fecundity among U.S. servicewomen. However, because the point estimates for many of the exposures were elevated, more research is needed to better understand the potential risks associated with environmental exposures and specific types of combat exposures.




Ippolito, A. C., Seelig, A. D., Powell, T. M., Conlin, A. M. S., Crum-Cianflone, N. F., Lemus, H., … LeardMann, C. A. (2017). Risk Factors Associated with Miscarriage and Impaired Fecundity among United States Servicewomen during the Recent Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women’s Health Issues, 27(3), 356–365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2016.12.012

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