Study confirms no extra risk of MS or Motor Neurone Disease for Vietnam vets

There is no evidence that Vietnam veterans face a significantly greater risk of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or Motor Neurone Disesase (MND) than the general community, according to a study released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA).

The report, Morbidity of Vietnam Veterans: Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neurone Disease in Vietnam Veterans (supplementary report no. 3), was commissioned by DVA and produced by the AIHW.

MS and MND have long been conditions of concern to the veteran community.
MS is a disorder of the central nervous system that results in decreased nerve function. It is one of the most common neurological causes of long-term disability.

MND is a progressive disease commonly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It occurs when the nerves that control the muscles fail to work normally-leading to muscle deterioration and waste, and eventually death.

With the permission of the veterans, the study followed up medical reports of 145 veterans who had reported having either MS or MND in a 1997 study into the health of Vietnam veterans and their families. Confirmation of these self-reported conditions was made by having veterans' clinical notes independently assessed by an expert neurologist panel.

The study found 20 confirmed cases of MS and 3 of MND in Vietnam veterans, both numbers falling within the expected range for the Australian community.

25 May 2001


Further information on report's content:
Phil Trickett, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1097
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032.