Did Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Cause Birth Defects?

The toxic chemicals found at Camp Lejeune include volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Scientific evidence continues to mount for a link between birth defects and maternal exposure to contaminated drinking water. (1)

“Exposure to certain VOCs may increase the risk for birth defects, neurocognitive impairment, asthma, and cancer,” according to some research. (2)

Other research has found “significantly elevated” incidents of low birth weights and small for gestational age in babies born to mothers exposed to VOCs. (3)

If you or a loved one was impacted by the Camp Lejeune water birth defects, our team of qualified lawyers is here to help. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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TCE and PCE Found at Camp Lejeune

Trichloroethylene (TCE) was one of the primary VOCs detected in one of the treatment plants supplying Camp Lejeune water. The other water treatment plant supplying the base was primarily contaminated with perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene (PCE). This water came from multiple sources such as “leaking underground storage tanks, industrial area spills, and waste disposal sites.” (4) 

The association between birth defects and TCE exposure is so strong that one scientific review of the literature concluded, “TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and poses a potential human health hazard for noncancer toxicity to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and the developing embryo/fetus.” (5)

Notably, the negative effects of PCE on a developing fetus were underscored by the results of another study. In that study, harmful effects of PCE exposure stood out because researchers were able to “single out the ingestion of PCE as a single exposure route.” (6)

ATSDR Finds Toxic Chemicals Affect Baby Development 

Another study was conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It also reported adverse birth outcomes for children whose mothers were exposed to the Camp Lejeune contaminated drinking water. (7) ATSDR warns, “TCE in the blood stream can cross the placenta and enter the developing baby.” (8)

Research looked exclusively at Camp Lejeune “residential exposure” among pregnant women who lived on the base — and gave birth between 1968-1985. The research determined children were at increased risks for neural tube defects (NTDs) and oral clefts from exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. (9)

According to ATSDR, “During the first trimester of pregnancy, the risk of a NTD increased with increasing levels of exposure to TCE.” (10)

ATSDR goes on to say, “an association between NTDs and first trimester exposure to benzene,” was also observed. (11)

Non-Cardiac Birth Defects Caused by Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The most common non-cardiac birth defects caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination include:

  • Low birthweight. (12)
  • Neural tube defects. (13)
  • Oral clefts. (14)
  • Preterm birth. (15)
  • Small for gestational age. (16)

Camp Lejeune Toxins and Their Impact on Birth Defects

There were many the toxins found in Camp Lejeune water. These toxins have many impacts on birth defects.

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

TCE is a known carcinogen with the “potential” to affect a developing fetus. (17) (18)

The maximum level detected in Camp Lejeune water was 1,400 parts per billion (μg/L). The current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowable limit for TCE in drinking water is 5 μg/L. (19)

Associated birth defects of TCE include: cardiac defects, NTDs, low birthweight, oral clefts, and being small for gestational size. (20) (21) (22)

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

PCE is also an industrial solvent, metal degreasing agent, and a known carcinogen. (23) (24)

The maximum level detected in Camp Lejeune water was 215 (μg/L). The current EPA allowable limit for PCE in drinking water is 5 μg/L. (25)

Associated birth defects of PCE include: cleft lip and palate, low birthweight, NTDs, and being small for gestational size. (26) (27)

Vinyl Chloride (VC)

VC is used in packaging, plastics, pipes, and coatings. It is a known carcinogen with developmental effects.

Associated birth defects include: fetal growth and development, and angiosarcoma of the liver. (28) (29)


Benzene is used in making plastics, rubber, dyes, lubricants, and pesticides. (30)

Associated birth defects of benzene include: delayed bone formation, low birth weight, and bone marrow damage. (31) (32)

What To Do if You or a Loved One Is a Victim of Camp Lejeune

Victims of Camp Lejeune water birth defects should file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. And it can help with your financial situation — medical bills, ongoing treatments, and loss of income.

These lawsuits can be highly complex. To begin the process of filing a successful lawsuit, you need an attorney. Your attorney guides you through the legal process, represents you in court, and negotiates any settlement on your behalf.

Your attorney should be compassionate, experienced in both environmental and personal injury law, and dedicated. This is exactly how our W&L environmental attorneys would describe themselves.

Who Qualifies to File a Camp Lejeune Water Birth Defect Lawsuit?

Weitz & Luxenberg is currently taking Camp Lejeune lawsuit birth defects cases from clients. This is because of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021. This law allows people who were in the military — or lived or worked — on this Marine base to make claims against the U.S. government.

To be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water birth defects claim, you must meet the criteria. Be prepared to provide as much documentation as you are able, in order to support your claims: (33)

  • You or your child must have been born between August 1953 and December 1987. Documentation required: a birth certificate or adoption papers.
  • You or your child must have a Camp Lejeune water birth defect. Examples of documentation include: medical records, receipts for treatments, and a written diagnosis from a licensed medical professional.
  • You or your mother must have been pregnant while living or working on Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987. Examples of documentation include: military records, orders, housing assignments, mortgage or lease agreements, and utility bills.
  • Your or your child’s length of exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune must have been at least 30 days.

Have you or a family member been impacted by non-cardiac birth defects from Camp Lejeune? Our team is here to help you get the justice you deserve. Get your free consultation today.

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How W&L Can Help

W&L has nearly 40 years of experience in helping victims, especially military families. Our firm has litigated not only personal injury claims, but environmental claims made by entire communities. We go up against governments, big businesses, and anyone else who indiscriminately disregards the rights, the health, and the well-being of our clients.

W&L attorneys have strong empathy for people who have been harmed — through no fault of your own — due to the negligence or indifference of others. Our firm’s goal is to obtain the best outcomes for our clients. We are dedicated to seeing cases through, from start to finish.

At W&L we are proud of our record of success — especially in helping clients exposed to toxic chemicals in their drinking water gain appropriate compensation. Here are some of the wins we were able to achieve for our clients:

  • $626 million win for the people of Flint, Michigan against the State of Michigan for lead poisoning after the City’s drinking water source was changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River.
  • $54 million win for Kent County, Michigan property owners against 3M and Wolverine for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of their private drinking water wells.
  • Large financial amount when 3M settled with the City of Stuart, Florida for contamination of the water system with PFAS.

If you or your child suffers from a Camp Lejeune water birth defect, we encourage you to reach out to us. Let us help you file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit birth defects claim.

Contact W&L for guidance and support in your own case by calling us at (833) 977-3437 for a free consultation.