Sunday, January 5, 2014

Birth Defects and Childhood Cancers Study

Exposure to Contaminated Drinking Water and Specific Birth Defects and Childhood Cancers at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina 
Study Purpose
The purpose of this study was to determine if maternal exposures to the drinking water contaminants at Camp Lejeune increased the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), oral clefts, and childhood hematopoietic cancers. This study also examined whether children exposed to contaminated drinking water during the first year of life had an increased risk of childhood cancers.  Drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE) and vinyl chloride from the 1950s through 1985. 
What Was Studied
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) surveyed the parents of 12,598 children during 1999-2002 to identify potential cases of birth defects and childhood cancers. ATSDR asked parents if their child had a birth defect or developed a childhood cancer. To be eligible for the survey, the mother had to reside on base some time during her pregnancy and children had to be born between 1968-1985.
The survey’s participation rate was approximately 76% (ATSDR 2003).  Survey participants reported 106 cases: 35 NTDs, 42 oral clefts, and 29 childhood hematopoietic cancers. ATSDR made extensive efforts to obtain medical information from health providers to confirm reported cases.  ATSDR was able to confirm 15 NTDs, 24 oral clefts, and 13 cancers. Only confirmed cases from the survey were eligible for the study.  Based on the survey results, the study focused on NTDs (spina bifida and anencephaly), oral clefts (cleft lip and cleft palate), and childhood hematopoietic cancers (leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma [NHL]) diagnosed before 20 years of age.

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