Agent Orange Exposure Increased Birth Defect Risks
Nearly 50 years after the end of the war, the children of its survivors still live with the consequences. Vietnamese citizens and Vietnam War vets reported increased instances of miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects in infants born to parents who were exposed to Agent Orange. But it would be decades before the U.S. government officially recognized that at least one birth defect, spina bifida, is associated with exposure to the chemical. Spina bifida is a condition in which the spinal cord does not develop properly. It may cause severe complications, including spine and skeletal abnormalities and paralysis. One analysis found that the risk of birth defects in babies born to vets exposed to Agent Orange was one-third higher than that for vets not exposed. Despite some evidence linking dioxin limb abnormalities and cleft palates, the U.S. does not recognize these as being associated with the chemical.