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April 10, 1996

New IOM Report Links Agent Orange Exposure to Risk of Birth Defect in Vietnam Vets' Children

JAMA. 1996;275(14):1066-1067. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530380008003

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NEW EVIDENCE reveals a tentative link between exposure to chemical defoliants that were used in the Vietnam War and an increased risk of spina bifida in veterans' children, according to a recently issued report by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The congressionally mandated report, Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 1996, is the second in a series of biennial reassessments of the health effects of Agent Orange and other herbicides. In addition to noting limited or suggestive evidence of an increased risk of the birth defect in exposed veterans' children, it said that new studies confirm the 1994 report's finding that there is sufficient evidence that exposure to these chemicals is linked with soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and chloracne.

The report also described "limited or suggestive" evidence, based on studies of occupational exposure to herbicides or dioxin outside of Vietnam, that exposure may be