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  • Millennium Cohort Study Researchers Investigate Risk Factors for New-Onset Asthma

    ​KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Researchers for the Millennium Cohort Study, which is led by the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), discussed recent findings about new-onset asthma rates among U.S. military personnel during a breakout session at the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS) Aug. 27.

    Millenium Cohort-Onset Asthma(600px).png

    ​(Title graphic from NHRC Public Affairs)

    MHSRS is a scientific meeting focused on the unique medical research needs of the U.S. armed forces. Scientists from across the Department of Defense (DoD), share information about current research initiatives for new treatments and prevention measures for injuries and diseases that improve mission readiness and protect the health of warfighters on and off the battlefield. 

    The Millennium Cohort Study is the largest longitudinal health study in military history. Launched in 2001, the study was designed to evaluate the impact of military service on long-term health outcomes and provide critical information to enhance and protect the health of current and future military members. Participants complete a baseline survey and receive follow-up surveys at least every three years through 2022.

    According to researchers, recent reports suggest U.S. service members who deployed in support of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have higher rates of new-onset asthma than those who did not deploy. Millennium Cohort Study researchers aimed to determine what risk factors may be associated with developing asthma, including combat deployment, among study participants.

    After analyzing survey data from over 75,000 study participants and examining deployment experiences, lifestyle characteristics, and health outcomes, researchers found that service members who deployed with combat experiences were 24-30 percent more likely to develop asthma than those who did not deploy. Additionally, the risk of developing new-onset asthma was the same for military personnel who deployed without combat experience and those who did not deploy.

    Other risk factors researchers found associated with the risk of developing asthma among both men and women, include:

    • Experiencing more than one stressful life event
    • Serving in the Army
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Working in health care

    These study findings provide researchers and medical professionals with a starting point for understanding risk factors for developing asthma among service members. To increase understanding of how combat experiences may increase asthma risk and inform prevention strategies, future research is needed.

    As the DoD’s premier deployment health research center, NHRC’s cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nation’s armed forces. In proximity to more than 95,000 active duty service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC sets the standard in joint ventures, innovation, and translational research.