The Effects of Agent Orange on Children That Are Born

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Agent Orange was a controversial chemical agent that was employed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. The chemical was intended as a herbicide, meant to partially de-foliate the thick jungles of Vietnam. The purpose was to make it easier for United States and allied forces to be able to see enemy troops, and be less prone to ambushes from the dense jungle. The spraying was stopped, according to military officials, by 1971 because of its dangerous side effects on people directly exposed and its even more horrific side effects on their yet to be conceived children.

Ocular Deformities

  • Agent Orange contained a chemical called dioxin. This chemical acts like a hormone when it is absorbed into the human body. When it gets to cell receptors in developing fetuses before the real hormones that are supposed to guide development, they cause the cells to effectively malfunction and deviate from a normal developmental path. One of the most common effects of Agent Orange on children whose parents were exposed is aberrant ocular development. This deformity can take the form of blindness due to children being born without retinas, without lenses in their eyes, and sometimes without eyes or even eye sockets at all.

Physical Deformities

  • In addition to being born without eye sockets, or eyes at all, children born to parents exposed to Agent Orange can suffer from a host of terrible physical deformities. These deformities can include stunted or missing limbs, limbs that are longer and shaped differently from healthy ones, cleft lip or palate and heads that can be over-sized or conical in shape. These children can also be born with organ problems, such as heart defects.

Still Birth

  • Children born to parents exposed to Agent Orange have a high likelihood of being still born, or having such health issues that they don't survive long after birth.

Mental Handicaps

  • Children born to parents exposed to Agent Orange can be born with severe mental handicaps. These handicaps can vary from learning disabilities and low IQ, to near catatonic states and severe behavioral disorders.

Increased Risk of Cancer

  • Children born to parents exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk for developing cancer, especially leukemia and adrenal gland cancer.

Loss of Parents

  • People directly exposed to Agent Orange have themselves developed health problems at a higher rate than the average population, including diabetes and cancer.

References

  • Photo Credit American Images Inc/Photodisc/Getty Images
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