Camp Lejeune water contamination linked to birth defects

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina Fri Dec 6, 2013 8:21pm EST

A bulldozer makes its way onto Onslow beach at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, May 26, 2003 after being unloaded from a landing craft. REUTERS/Ellen Ozier

A bulldozer makes its way onto Onslow beach at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, May 26, 2003 after being unloaded from a landing craft.

Credit: Reuters/Ellen Ozier

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Water pollution at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina has been linked to increased risk of birth defects and childhood cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A study released by the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry on Thursday confirmed a long-suspected link between chemical contaminants in tap water at the Marine Corps base and serious birth defects such as spina bifida

It also showed a slightly elevated risk of childhood cancers including leukemia.

Dr. Vikas Kapil, a medical officer and acting deputy director of the CDC agency that produced the study, said it surveyed the parents of 12,598 children born at Lejeune between 1968 and 1985, the year most contaminated drinking water wells at Camp Lejeune were closed.

From that same group of participants, 106 cases of birth defects and childhood cancers were reported. But Kapil said researchers could only confirm the diagnoses in 52 cases.

Computerized birth certificates first became available in 1968. The study's authors said they could not prove exposure to the chemicals caused specific individuals to become ill.

The CDC has linked the contamination to a number of sources including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and an off-base dry cleaning firm.

Lejeune spokeswoman Captain Maureen Krebs said the Marine Corps has supported scientific and public health organizations studying the health impacts of the contamination.

"These results provide additional information in support of ongoing efforts to provide comprehensive science-based answers to the health questions that have been raised," Krebs said in a statement.

"The Marine Corps continues to support these initiatives and we are working diligently to identify and notify individuals who, in the past, may have been exposed to the chemicals in drinking water."

The Veterans Administration has already been providing disability compensation claims to the affected families and personnel exposed to the contaminated water.

(Editing by Tom Brown and Bob Burgdorfer)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (2)
DrWhom wrote:
What an awesome, in-depth analysis. I hope the ex-tenants at Camp Lejune receive a copy.

Dec 06, 2013 9:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Mike.Lee wrote:
The artical above says the VA is providing Disability to Veterans,Thats far from the truth! There is a 20% approval rate coming out of Louisville,Ky. and the rest denied,only to file an appeal that takes years more to even get herd.Fifteen Cancers have been approved for Medical treatment at the VA but Disability Denied, they say they didnt cause it! Please everyone write your Congressman and Senators till there sick of hearsing from you for there letting these Veterans die of rare Cancers. Its a shame we fought for our Country and now we fight our Government in Washington!

Dec 08, 2013 11:17am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.