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Bomb blasts caused most of the genital or urinary tract wounds suffered by 1,367 men in the United States military while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013, a study by military researchers says.
More than a third of those injuries were severe, according to the study in The Journal of Urology, The New York Times reported.
This is an "unprecedented" number of what the researchers called "uniquely devastating" injuries that can harm a man's ability to have sex, father children or urinate normally.
The study said 94 percent of the men with these types of wounds were 35 or younger, in "their peak years of sexual development and reproductive potential," and that the mental toll of such wounds was especially high in such young men, the Times reported.
These men are at high risk for suicide, according to Dr. Steven J. Hudak, a surgeon and a lieutenant colonel at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex, and his colleagues.
"Many of these have been my patients," Hudak told the Times. "We are trying to tell their story and display the burden of the problem."
The study is believed to be the most comprehensive review of such injuries in U.S. veterans. While there was awareness of the issue previously, the extent was unknown, the Times reported.
"The amount of resiliency and inner and outer strength and personal courage in the patients I've been asked to care for is quite inspiring, the courage they display when they face these things that 20-year-olds otherwise would not have to face," Hudak said.
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