Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Birth Defects
People residing at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 may have been exposed to various toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOC). Specific VOCs found at Camp Lejeune have been associated with birth defects, childhood cancers, and other serious health issues. A recently signed bill allows victims to bring lawsuits against the U.S. government.
Birth Defects Caused by Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposures
The chemicals identified in the water at Camp Lejeune can cause serious health problems in people who are exposed, including cancers and chronic diseases.
When pregnant women are exposed, these VOCs can also cause serious defects in their babies. Birth defects associated with exposure to the chemicals found at Camp Lejeune include:
- Neural tube defects (NTDs): The neural tube is a structure in the embryo that forms the brain and spinal cord. This process doesn’t happen correctly if a child has a neural tube defect. According to the Annual Review of Neuroscience, the most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. In children with spina bifida, the spinal column doesn’t close properly, leaving part of the spinal cord unprotected. This can cause various complications, including paralysis and brain damage (from a buildup of fluid around the brain). Children with anencephaly are born with an underdeveloped brain and incomplete skull; this condition is fatal.
- Preterm birth or low birth weight: Both conditions significantly increase a baby’s risk for a variety of serious health problems.
- Oral clefts (such as cleft lip): These birth defects happen when the baby’s roof of the mouth (the palate) doesn’t form completely, leaving a space, or cleft, in the child’s upper lip or the roof of the mouth.
- Choanal atresia: In this condition, the baby is born with blocked nasal passages of membranous soft tissue, bone, or a combination of both. Because newborns must breathe through their noses, this is potentially a very serious condition.
- Congenital eye defects: Examples include anophthalmia (no eye), optic nerve hypoplasia (underdeveloped optic nerve), and microphthalmia (small eye). These can have serious effects on a child’s vision.
- Miscarriage or fetal death: Although not a birth defect, a pregnancy loss can have a devastating effect on a family.
Other major congenital malformations have also been associated with exposure to VOCs during pregnancy.
A study published in Environmental Health shared that in addition to birth defects, connections have been found between exposure to the contaminants at Camp Lejeune and certain childhood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma.
It’s important to note that research regarding the health effects of the water contamination and vapor intrusion at Camp Lejeune is still ongoing. It may be many years before we know the severity of the toxic effects on service members and their families.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022
President Biden recently signed into law the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. This law was passed as part of a larger bill known as the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (or Honoring our PACT).
This bill allows people harmed by toxic exposures at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits against the federal government related to the health effects they have experienced.
Normally, the U.S. government can claim immunity from a lawsuit. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 prevents the government from claiming immunity, allowing victims to file lawsuits against it for the effects of these toxic exposures.
People may be eligible to bring lawsuits if they were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. This includes in-utero exposure. Because this bill was signed into law recently, it’s too soon to know the likely outcomes of these specific lawsuits.
The Birth Injury Center Can Help
Those who have suffered health effects that have been associated with the toxic chemicals present at Camp Lejeune may be able to receive a financial settlement, which can help cover medical bills and other costs associated with these health problems.
If you were at Camp Lejeune while pregnant during the time period of 1953 to 1987, and your child was born with a birth defect or developed childhood leukemia or lymphoma, it could be within your rights to file a lawsuit against the federal government.
Contact the Birth Injury Center for a free case review to determine whether you may be eligible to file.