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Birth Defects


In the context of VA benefits, the term “Birth Defects” refers to abnormalities present in a child at birth, which result in physical or mental disabilities. These defects may be caused by various factors, including genetics or exposure to harmful substances during pregnancy. Notably, the VA recognizes specific birth defects in children of veterans who were exposed to certain substances or served in particular locations, making those children eligible for disability benefits and other support services.

Key Takeaways

  1. Birth defects in children of eligible veterans can qualify for VA benefits, specifically when the defects are related to the parent’s military service.
  2. These benefits can include compensation, healthcare, vocational training, and support services, depending on the severity of the birth defect and the veteran’s history of service.
  3. The VA recognizes specific birth defects linked to certain military service scenarios, such as Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam or contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, and these connections are required for eligibility for benefits.


The term “Birth Defects” is significant in the context of VA benefits because it refers to the congenital disabilities or anomalies that may affect the children of veterans who have been exposed to certain hazardous agents, chemicals, or medications during their military service.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the association between specific risk factors and the occurrence of birth defects in the offspring of veterans.

Consequently, the VA offers benefits and support programs to help address the health-related, financial, and social challenges that affected families may face.

Recognizing the importance of “Birth Defects” in VA benefits not only acknowledges the sacrifices made by veterans and their families but also serves as a commitment from the government to ensure appropriate assistance and compensation for those who are directly impacted by the consequences of their service.


The VA benefits term “Birth Defects” is primarily used in the context of providing necessary support and assistance to the children of veterans who have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions attributed to their parents’ military service, specifically those who have been exposed to particular harmful substances or faced hazardous situations during their time on duty. The purpose of acknowledging and addressing these birth defects is to ensure that affected children receive appropriate care, financial support, and other essential resources, as their medical conditions may result from their parents’ brave service to the nation.

Consequently, the VA benefits system aims to alleviate the financial strain and emotional challenges faced by the veterans and their families in addressing these unique health concerns. VA benefits for children with recognized birth defects may include healthcare services, special monthly monetary compensation, and vocational training to help them lead a fulfilled life.

These benefits serve as a way to show gratitude and support to the veterans and their families who have been impacted by the collateral consequences of military service and to make necessary resources available for the appropriate care of their children. By providing these benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the sacrifices made by veterans and strives to support them and their families in coping with the long-lasting effects of their service-related experiences.

Examples of Birth Defects

The term “Birth Defects” in the context of VA Benefits refers to conditions or disabilities that are a direct result of the parent’s military service. Here are three real-world examples of birth defects related to VA Benefits:

Spina Bifida: Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect that occurs during the early stages of pregnancy, leading to spinal cord abnormalities and severe disabilities. Children born to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during the Vietnam War are eligible for VA benefits to help cover the costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Anencephaly: This is a severe birth defect in which a baby is born with an underdeveloped brain and an incomplete skull. Children of veterans who served at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and were exposed to contaminated drinking water, may be eligible for VA benefits if they developed anencephaly.

Certain birth defects in children of female Vietnam veterans: Female veterans who served in Vietnam between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975, and have children with specific birth defects linked to their military service may be eligible for financial assistance and medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. These birth defects include, but are not limited to, cleft lip or palate, congenital heart defects, and learning disabilities.

FAQs for VA Benefits – Birth Defects

1. What birth defects are covered by VA benefits?

VA benefits cover a wide range of birth defects associated with veterans’ exposure to certain toxic substances during military service, such as Agent Orange. These birth defects include spina bifida, heart defects, respiratory disorders, and certain mental disabilities. The full list of covered birth defects can be found on the VA’s website.

2. How do I apply for VA benefits for my child’s birth defect?

To apply for VA benefits for your child’s birth defect, you can submit an application online through the VA’s eBenefits website or by mailing the appropriate forms to your nearest VA regional office. You will need to provide medical records, service records, and any other supporting documentation to prove your eligibility and your child’s condition.

3. Can surviving spouses or family members apply for VA benefits for birth defects?

Yes, surviving spouses and other eligible family members of deceased veterans can apply for VA benefits for birth defects. They will need to provide proof of the veteran’s service, their relationship to the veteran, and the child’s birth defect to be considered for eligibility.

4. What types of benefits are available for children with birth defects related to a veteran’s military service?

The VA offers several types of benefits for children with birth defects related to a veteran’s military service. These benefits may include monthly disability compensation, healthcare services, vocational training, and educational assistance to help the child lead a more independent life.

5. Does the VA provide any support or resources for families dealing with birth defects?

Yes, the VA provides support and resources for families dealing with birth defects through various programs and services. These may include healthcare services, counseling, and referral services to help families access specialized care and support for their child’s needs. To learn more, contact your nearest VA regional office or visit the VA’s website.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Agent Orange Exposure
  • Congenital Disabilities
  • Spina Bifida
  • Disabled Veterans’ Dependents
  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

Sources for More Information