A long-awaited study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a link between tainted tap water at a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina and increased risk of serious birth defects and childhood cancers.
The authors of the study on Camp Lejeune released late Thursday by the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry warned it is based on a small sample size and cannot prove exposure to the chemicals caused specific individuals to become ill.
But the study did conclude that babies born to mothers who drank Lejeune tap water while pregnant were four times more likely than women who lived off-base to have such serious birth defects as spina bifida. Babies whose mothers were exposed also had a slightly elevated risk of such childhood cancers as leukemia, according to the results.
The study surveyed the parents of 12,598 children born at Lejeune between 1968 and 1985, the year most contaminated drinking water wells were closed. They reported 106 cases of serious birth defects and childhood hematopoietic cancers. Of those, researchers said they could obtain medical records to confirm the diagnoses in only 52 cases.