Tetrachloroethylene in drinking water and birth outcomes at the US Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

N. Sonnenfeld, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, W. E. Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


A study of mean birth weight, small-for-gestational-age infants, and preterm birth was conducted at the US Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where drinking water was contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) was the predominant contaminant. The authors used multiple linear and logistic regression to analyze 1968-1985 data from 11,798 birth certificates. Overall, at most weak associations were observed between PCE exposure and study outcomes. However, associations were found between PCE exposure and birth-weight outcomes for infants of older mothers and mothers with histories of fetal loss. Adjusted mean birth-weight differences between PCE-exposed and unexposed infants were -130 g (90% confidence interval (CI): -236, -23) for mothers aged 35 years or older and -104 g (90% CI: -174, -34) for mothers with two or more previous fetal losses. Adjusted odds ratios for PCE exposure and small-forgestational-age infants were 2.1 (90% CI: 0.9, 4.9) for older mothers and 2.5 (90% CI: 1.5, 4.3) for mothers with two or more prior fetal losses. These results suggest that some fetuses may be more vulnerable than others to chemical insult.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-908
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Birth weight
  • Chemical
  • Gestational age
  • Hazardous waste
  • Maternal age
  • Organic chemicals
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Water pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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