Cars enter the main gate at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. The sprawling military installation is the site of one of the worst drinking water contaminations in U.S. history. (AP / Gerry Broome)
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RALEIGH, N.C. — A long-awaited study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms 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 study released late Thursday by the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry surveyed the parents of 12,598 children born at Camp Lejeune between 1968 and 1985, the year drinking-water wells contaminated with chemicals from a leaky fuel depot and a dry cleaner were closed.
The study concludes that babies born to mothers who drank the tap water while pregnant were four times more likely than normal to have such serious birth defects as spinal bifida. Babies whose mothers were exposed also had an elevated risk of such childhood cancers as leukemia.