The US Veterans Administration (VA) recognises a wide range of birth defects as associated with women Veterans' service in Vietnam. These diseases are not tied to herbicides, including Agent Orange, or dioxin exposure, but rather to the birth mother's service in Vietnam.
“Children are our future. We have all heard that common saying.
What is the future of the children of Vietnam veterans and other veterans with toxic, service-related exposures?”, stated a position report by the Agent Orange and Other Toxic Substances Subcommittee, dated January 14, 2010.
“There is a growing realisation that both maternal and paternal toxic exposures play a role in the birth defects of the children and future generations of the exposed individuals. Research in the field of epigenetics also points towards toxic exposures turning on or off genes that, when passed on to the child, could lead to the onset of diseases later in life”, the report added.
“We now know that when we send service members in harm's way, battlefields toxins also place the future offspring of those service members in harm's way. Background: The VA recognises only one birth defect, spina bifida (a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonicneural tube), in the children of both male and female Vietnam veterans.
"The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded in its 1996 update to its report on Veterans and Agent Orange-Health Effects of Herbicides Used in Vietnam that there is limited/suggestive evidence of an association between exposure to herbicides used in Vietnam and spina bifida in children of Vietnam veterans."
"In 2000, Dr. Han Kang (referred to in the previous article of this series) and the VA's Environmental Epidemiology Service of the Veterans Health Administration published a study that estimating the risk of birth defects as significant."
As a result of these findings, the VA now funds assistance programs for spina bifida in the children of male or female Vietnam veterans and for all birth defects without other known causes in the children of female veterans. Children born to female Vietnam veterans who meet certain requirements may be eligible for compensation, vocational training, rehabilitation, and health care benefits.