Civil War had major impact on lifetime health, study finds

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Around 85% of US Civil War soldiers suffered from ill health after the conflict, a University of California study has discovered.

The researchers examined 15,000 records in the Archives of General Psychiatry and found heart, stomach and mental health problems affected the lives of combatants after the 1861-1865 war. Poor health was likely to affect soldiers under 17 in 93% of cases compared with those aged over 31 years. Prisoners-of-war and those in high-risk regiments also had a greater incidence of ill-health later in life. Researcher Professor Roxane Cohen Silver commented: ‘For the first time, we have objective records indicating that horrific war experiences are associated with a lifetime of increased physical disease and mental health difficulties.’ She added: ‘Unfortunately, it's likely that the deleterious health effects seen in a war conducted more than 130 years ago are applicable to the health and well-being of soldiers fighting wars in the 21st century.’

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