Agent Orange as a Cause of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida is a birth defect that affects the spines of developing fetuses and infants, and research in the 20th century indicated that chemicals in the herbicide Agent Orange likely lead to the birth defect. People with spina bifida can have nerve damage, paralysis, and mental disabilities. During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, the US military employed Agent Orange and other herbicides to destroy enemy crops and forest cover until 1970. Though studies of the link between Agent Orange exposure and birth defects were at first inconclusive, in 1995 the US National Academy of Sciences concluded that one birth defect, spina bifida, was associated with paternal Agent Orange exposure. Spina bifida was, by the twenty-first century, the only birth defect that the US Veterans Administration connected to Agent Orange exposure.