Cardiac Birth Defects in the Children of Camp Lejeune

Contaminated drinking water caused children at Camp Lejeune to experience cardiac birth defects, childhood cancers, and adult-onset diseases. Expectant mothers and couples living at Camp Lejeune didn’t know why so many miscarriages and infant deaths kept occurring, but the pattern was unmistakable. Maternal exposure to contaminated water in the wells at Camp Lejeune was poisoning the unborn, resulting in miscarriages, infant deaths, infertility, and life-long health conditions.

Effects of TCE on Children Living at Camp Lejeune

Elizabeth, a Harvard-educated doctor, was an avid runner and a college soccer player until she collapsed during a jog. Her life since then hasn’t been the same. She now travels 1,300 miles for heart surgeries and treatment for health conditions that no doctor seemed able to identify, until physicians connected the dots between Elizabeth’s birthplace—Camp Lejeune—and her illnesses. 

Elizabeth’s mother conceived while living at the military base during the years the water wells were contaminated with toxic chemicals. Drinking of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune exposed infant Elizabeth to a combination of toxins that included trichloroethylene (TCE). Unbeknownst to Elizabeth’s mother at the time, exposure to drinking water at Camp Lejeune and years of living in contaminated housing during Elizabeth’s childhood—continuing to drink and bathe in contaminated water—would lead to her daughter’s failing health decades after the fact. 


Camp Lejeune Miscarriages 

While some individuals developed symptoms after the family had left Camp Lejeune, other new and expectant mothers saw signs of trouble right away. One such woman was Kathy, a resident at Camp Lejeune who gave birth to three stillborn babies between 1963 and 1970. And Kathy was not alone. It’s estimated hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of infants were lost between the mid-1960s and 1985 as a result of exposure to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune


Many military families fortunate enough to welcome babies into their homes at Camp Lejeune were forced to say goodbye to them soon thereafter. The frequency of Camp Lejeune miscarriages puzzled accomplished physicians and military doctors. 

Parents won’t stop grieving their children or questioning the choices that brought them to Camp Lejeune. The children who grew up at Camp Lejeune—and the infants who never got a chance—deserve to be acknowledged.