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CDC's Camp Lejeune study links birth defects to toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on August 04th, 2020

Chronic exposure to industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, an increased risk of childhood leukemia, and a greater incidence of birth defects such as spina bifida, found a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the early 1980s at the Marine Corps Base in Lejeune, NC, it was discovered that three on-base wells were contaminated with the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning agent. The cancer-causing potential of PCE has been established through numerous epidemiological studies and conclusive evidence that have contributed to PCE's designation as a "probable human carcinogen" by the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) and "likely to be carcinogenic in humans" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Environmental toxins are seen as posing risks during pregnancy. Pregnant women who resided at Camp Lejeune may have came in contact with hazardous contaminants and by doing so inadvertently exposed their fetuses. According to epidemiological studies, babies born to mothers exposed to toxic chemicals while pregnant are four times more likely to have serious birth defects and congenital anomalies than babies born to mothers who lived off-base.

Toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune linked to elevated risks of childhood cancers and serious birth defects

Women who were exposed to various contaminants at Camp Lejeune need to better understand the association between their exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The following effects were seen in births from 1968 through 1985 of women exposed to dangerous chemicals at Camp Lejeune, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry:

  • prenatal exposure to PCE was associated with delayed time-to-pregnancy and increased risks of placental abruption, stillbirths stemming from placental dysfunction, and certain birth defects
  • exposure to TCE in the womb was associated with small for gestational age (SGA), term low birth weight (TLBW) and reduced mean birth weight (MBW)
  • exposure to benzene in the womb was associated with low birth weight and a greater incidence of birth defects such as spina bifida - a type of birth defect of the brain, spine, or spinal cord

The study also indicated a slightly elevated risk of childhood cancers including leukemia. The CDC has linked environmental contamination at Camp Lejeune to a number of sources including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and an off-base dry cleaning firm.

Our lawyers are here to assist parents of children with birth defects due to Camp Lejeune's contamination

Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between 1952 and 1987 are eligible for cost-free healthcare from the VA.

By law, the VA provides reimbursement for out-of-pocket healthcare costs for veterans' family members, including children born to mothers exposed to volatile organic compounds at Camp Lejeune.

Eligible family members receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred from the treatment of qualifying health conditions, including birth defects.

We believe that those who have been put in harm's way by the negligence of another are entitled to justice. With over 20 years of handling toxic exposure cases, you can trust our team of lawyers to fight for the compensation you deserve.