Did Camp Lejeune Water Cause Birth Defects?
Possibly, yes. The toxic drinking water at the Marine Corps base may have put unborn babies at risk of Camp Lejeune birth defects and other severe health conditions.
A study was done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) that surveyed almost 13,000 parents of children born at the base between 1968 and 1985. It found that drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune during the early part of pregnancy might have increased the risk of certain birth defects.
“Water pollution at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina has been linked to increased risk of birth defects and childhood cancers.”
Babies whose mothers were exposed to the contaminated drinking water were more likely to develop neural tube defects (NTDs), such as anencephaly (when parts of the brain and skull are missing). They were also at higher risk for developing cancer, such as childhood leukemia.
Thankfully, victims can finally pursue justice and financial aid through Camp Lejeune lawsuits, no matter how far back exposure was and even if they were denied benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the past.
Find out if you qualify to file a lawsuit for birth defects from Camp Lejeune water contamination with a free case review right now.
Birth Defects From Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The true extent of birth defects linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination may never be known. This is because sample sizes are relatively small, and medical records from long ago are hard to track down.
However, there’s a definitive link between Camp Lejeune water contamination and many birth defects.
Birth defects from Camp Lejeune water contamination may include:
- Cardiac defects
- Fetal death
- Immune system disorders
- Low birth weight
- Major congenital malformations
- Neural tube birth defects (spina bifida and anencephaly)
- Oral cleft defects (including cleft lip)
While there may not be a solid understanding of the true extent of harm done, military and civilian personnel who lived or worked at the base are all too familiar with Camp Lejeune birth defects.
“I had two children born there at the hospital; both at seven months. We were there from 1972 to 1976. Joe died less than thirty days with lung problems. My daughter was born with a hole in her stomach. … I also had another daughter born in 1979 without a spinal cord, which I believe was caused by residual effects of my wife’s contamination.”
—U.S. Marine Corps veteran, 2021
Additionally, the ATSDR found evidence suggesting an increased risk of certain types of cancers, including childhood cancers.
Camp Lejeune Water and Childhood Leukemia
Childhood leukemia and other cancers later in life have been among the most alarming health issues linked to the contamination.
The American Legion Magazine featured the story of a former Marine drill instructor who lost his 9-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1985.
“Nothing ever gives you comfort when you lose a child. I think that’s the worst thing that can happen to a human being … to watch them go through the hell they go through. That’s something that never leaves you.”
—Former Marine drill instructor
For decades, families and victims have advocated for research, transparency, and compensation related to the health effects of the polluted water at Camp Lejeune.
Finally, thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, victims of the toxic water can finally seek justice through legal action. This includes people born with Camp Lejeune birth defects, no matter how long ago they were born.
Our claims review process is simple — see if you qualify right now.
Pregnant Women at Camp Lejeune
Sadly, pregnant women living at Camp Lejeune are often some of the forgotten victims of the tragedy. As far back as the 1950s, women living on the base were unknowingly putting their unborn babies at risk.
Drinking the toxic water wasn’t the only way pregnant women were exposed. They also risked exposure by washing dishes, bathing, and swimming in the contaminated water.
In addition to Camp Lejeune birth defects, infertility and miscarriage, and even fetal death (stillbirth) have been reported among pregnant women.
Yet despite clear evidence, countless women have faced repeated VA claim denials and have felt as though they were pushed aside.
A U.S. Navy wife who lived at Camp Lejeune in the 1980s lost her son to stillbirth after a complication-free pregnancy. Sadly, she recounts, “I know I asked over 30 attorneys. Not one of them would take the case. For me, it’s about justice.”
It is important not to give up hope. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 finally gives the long-awaited opportunity for women who were pregnant at Camp Lejeune to get justice and financial aid.
While the money will never undo decades of pain and suffering, it can provide the closure needed for healing to begin.
What Chemicals Are Linked to Camp Lejeune Birth Defects?
Chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are linked to Camp Lejeune birth defects. Camp Lejeune water contamination mainly stems from an off-base dry cleaning business and an on-base fuel depot that leaked thousands of gallons of fuel into the water system over time.
VOCs were released into two of Camp Lejeune’s water supply systems — Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point. Further, when Holcomb Boulevard’s water treatment plant was offline, Hadnot Point’s water was also used.
The sad reality is that toxic chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s water could have caused birth defects, childhood conditions, and other health problems later in life.
“There’s a cemetery at Camp Lejeune called ‘Baby Heaven.’ Here, you’ll find gravestones of babies who were born with leukemia, babies born without craniums, and babies born with cleft palates and spines protruding out of their backs. They were born — and many died — with unimaginable birth defects.”
—North Carolina Health News
Camp Lejeune Chemicals and Their Effects on Unborn Babies
According to the ATSDR, higher rates of birth defects are linked with in-utero exposure to perchloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), and benzene.
The ATSDR study suggests that different problems are linked to which chemical(s) the mother was exposed to and at what point during the pregnancy the exposure occurred.
To follow are highlights of the ATSDR’s findings:
- Benzene: Women exposed in the first trimester were more likely to have a child with NTDs
- Dichloroethylene (DCE), PCE, or vinyl chloride: Babies who were exposed in utero were more likely to develop childhood leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- PCE: Pregnant women exposed during the second trimester were more likely to have a premature birth
- TCE: Women exposed during the first trimester were more likely to give birth to a baby with heart problems, immune system disorders, and NTDs
Babies Born at Camp Lejeune
People born at Camp Lejeune may not even know their illnesses were caused by the contaminated water. These victims may have faced a lifetime of chronic health problems, pain, and suffering.
For one man, the harm Camp Lejeune water caused was not evident for decades. It wasn’t until age 39 that he was diagnosed with male breast cancer, considered a rare disease, especially for someone so young. His cancer went into remission, but only after a radical mastectomy and aggressive chemotherapy.
Sadly, this is not an isolated case. Thankfully, you may have newly available legal rights if you were born at Camp Lejeune when the water was contaminated.
Check to see if you could have been exposed while your mother was pregnant on the base.
|Pregnancy Range||Contamination Risk||Birth Date Range||Age Range Today (August 2023)|
|1953 to 1987||High Risk (Tarawa Terrace & Hadnot Point)||1953 to 1988||34 to 70 years old|
|1972 to 1985||High Risk (Hadnot Point)||1972 to 1986||36 to 51 years old|
|June 1978||High Risk (Holcomb Boulevard)||June 1978 to March 1979||44 to 45 years old|
|April 1981||High Risk (Holcomb Boulevard)||April 1981 to January 1982||41 to 42 years old|
|January 28 to February 4, 1985||High Risk (Holcomb Boulevard)||February 1985 to October 1985||37 to 38 years old|
If you were born at Camp Lejeune while the water was contaminated, call the Camp Lejeune Claims Center at (866) 473-4764 now.
Our advocates are standing by 24 hours a day to talk with you about your eligibility. After decades of waiting, justice for Camp Lejeune birth defects and illnesses may finally be here.
Other Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Health Issues
In addition to Camp Lejeune birth defects, many other conditions are linked to the contaminated water.
Camp Lejeune water contamination illnesses include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Aplastic anemia
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Heart disease
- Hepatic steatosis
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurological disorders
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Pancreatic cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Renal toxicity
VA Benefits for Camp Lejeune Birth Defects
In 2015, the ATSDR recommended to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that those with Camp Lejeune birth defects, such as neural tube issues, be eligible for VA benefits. While this helped some families, many still received no support.
Additionally, the VA determined female infertility and miscarriage did not qualify victims for disability coverage. Women who suffered the mental anguish of miscarriages or stillbirths have received little relief from the VA.
Fortunately, women who were pregnant at Camp Lejeune and their children have legal rights through Camp Lejeune birth defects lawsuits.
Even if your spouse is already receiving benefits or was denied, or if you tragically lost your child, you may be newly eligible thanks to the PACT Act.
Watch our short video to see how the PACT Act may have opened new doors for you.
Learn what the recently signed PACT ACT means for veterans and their loved ones stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. View Transcript.
Duration: 01 min 51 sec
Camp Lejeune 101: What the PACT ACT means for Camp Lejeune 101 veterans. On August 10th, 2022, United States President Joe Biden signed the PACT ACT, a bill that offers the most significant increase in critical healthcare and disability benefits to millions of veterans in their families in more than three decades, but what does this bill specifically mean for veterans who are stationed at Camp Lejeune?
Between 1953 and 1987, nearby businesses were dumping hazardous chemicals that made their way into the Camp Lejeune water supply systems. The water contained toxins, such as benzene, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride, chemicals that can cause cancer, infertility, miscarriages, and other illnesses. Residents and staff were repeatedly exposed to the site’s tap water system, including drinking and bathing in the water.
The PACT Act includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, a bipartisan bill that allows veterans and their families who were exposed to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits and recover compensation for the harm done. If you or your loved ones were exposed to the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The Camp Lejeune Claim Center has been helping veterans and their families pursue compensation for their injuries. Call (866)-473-4764 today to request a free case review and see how we can help you to.
Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Birth Defects Lawsuit?
Anyone who lived or worked on the base for at least 30 days from 1953 to 1987 may now qualify to file a Camp Lejeune birth defects lawsuit.
This includes women who were pregnant, women who lost pregnancies, and anyone born on the base between 1953 and 1987 when the Camp Lejeune water was contaminated.
Previously, eligibility for relief from Camp Lejeune toxic water injuries has been limited. Veterans and their family members have faced repeated denials, leaving them frustrated and overwhelmed with medical bills and mental anguish.
Even if you have been told you do not qualify in the past, you may be entitled to compensation through a Camp Lejeune birth defects lawsuit.
However, it is important to act without delay. There are strict deadlines that apply to these lawsuits, including those involving Camp Lejeune birth defects.
Find a Camp Lejeune Birth Defects Law Firm
Finding a qualified Camp Lejeune birth defect law firm is an important decision. While you may think you need to hire a Camp Lejeune lawyer in North Carolina, that is not necessarily the case. Another common misconception is thinking you need a lawyer near you.
Despite what you may hear, the best Camp Lejeune birth defects law firms are those with access to a wide arsenal of resources, such as top doctors, registered nurses, and other medical experts who can review your claim.
Connect with an experienced law firm today to discuss your Camp Lejeune birth defects claim. Our trained Camp Lejeune claims advocates are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions.
Camp Lejeune Birth Defects FAQs
How much does Camp Lejeune pay for birth defects?
Currently, there is no way to know how much payouts will be for Camp Lejeune birth defects and other related issues. However, some legal experts have begun projecting what Camp Lejeune settlements may look like.
Here are estimated payouts for Camp Lejeune lawsuits:
- Camp Lejeune birth defects (severe): $1 million or more
- Infertility: $200,000–$400,000
- Wrongful death: $650,000–over $1 million
How does Camp Lejeune water affect offspring?
Children of those exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were at increased risk for conditions like neural tube defects, cleft lip, and certain childhood cancers. Many of these Camp Lejeune health issues left children permanently disabled or even caused their deaths.
The toxic water at Camp Lejeune is also linked with infertility and miscarriage.
Can contaminated water cause birth defects?
Yes, contaminated water can lead to birth defects. When pregnant women consume water that is tainted with certain chemicals or heavy metals, it can lead to developmental issues in the fetus. Safe drinking water is essential for fetal development.
Studies, including one conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, have confirmed an increased risk of Camp Lejeune birth defects for anyone exposed to the base water while it was contaminated.