Studies Explore Anomalous Health Incidents Reported by Government Personnel

No differences seen in terms of clinical, research, biomarker assessments or in MRI modalities compared with controls
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

MONDAY, March 18, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Some U.S. government personnel have reported dizziness, pain, visual problems, and cognitive dysfunction after experiencing intrusive sounds and head pressure, termed anomalous health incidents (AHIs), but no differences are seen in terms of clinical, research, and biomarker assessments or in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) modalities compared with controls, according to two studies published online March 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Leighton Chan, M.D., M.P.H., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues examined whether 86 participants with AHIs differ from 30 vocationally matched government control participants with respect to clinical, research, and biomarker assessments. The researchers observed no significant differences in most tests of auditory, vestibular, cognitive, or visual function or in blood biomarker levels between participants with AHIs and control participants. Significantly increased fatigue, depression, posttraumatic stress, imbalance, and neurobehavioral symptoms were seen for participants with AHIs versus controls.

In a second study, Carlo Pierpaoli, M.D., Ph.D., from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues assessed the potential presence of MRI-detectable brain lesions in 81 participants with AHIs and 48 age- and sex-matched controls, 29 of whom had similar employment as the AHI group. Imaging scans were performed as soon as 14 days after experiencing AHIs. The researchers observed no significant differences between the participants with AHIs and controls for any MRI modality after adjustment for multiple comparisons.

"Objective, independent expert panels should review emerging data and patterns and pose competing, testable hypotheses that prompt use and development of relevant clinical diagnostics and environmental sensors," David A. Relman, M.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, writes in an accompanying editorial. "Effective real-time forensic investigations in demanding environments can be exceedingly difficult and may benefit from an all-of government approach."

Several authors from both studies disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text - Chan

Abstract/Full Text - Pierpaoli


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