Navigation Links
Major new UNC-based drinking water study suggests pregnancy fears may be overstated

Fears that chemical byproducts resulting from purifying drinking water with chlorine boost the chances that pregnant women will miscarry were not supported by the results of a major new study. If such threats exist at all, which is uncertain, they likely are modest, it concludes.

The national study, directed by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists, contrasts with earlier, less detailed work done in Northern California and published in 1998. That research suggested an association between byproducts known as trihalomethanes and loss of pregnancy.

"We think our new work should be an important contribution to policy studies," said principal investigator Dr. David A. Savitz of the UNC School of Public Health. "While it is not the final answer, what we found is largely reassuring relative to what had come before.

"The vast majority of the U.S. population is living with these exposures to drinking water byproducts," Savitz said. "If they clearly increased women's miscarriage rates, that would be a very big, very expensive problem to solve. Reducing exposure would be quite expensive for the water utilities and ultimately their customers."

The methods used in the new work make it the most ambitious and sophisticated study ever done on this issue, he said.

Savitz, Cary C. Boshamer distinguished professor and chair of epidemiology, and colleagues released a report on the investigation today (July 29). The American Water Works Association Research Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research group, sponsored it.

Others involved include Dr. Philip C. Singer, professor of environmental sciences and engineering and co-principal investigator, and Drs. Katherine E. Hartmann of obstetrics and gynecology and epidemiology, Amy H. Herring of biostatistics and Howard S. Weinberg of environmental sciences and engineering.

The scientists selected and repeatedly tested three properly functioning water purification f acilities, including one with moderate levels of chlorinated disinfection byproducts, one with moderate levels of brominated disinfection byproducts and one with low levels of all disinfection byproducts. None of the utilities was selected because of water quality or health problems.

Between December 2000 and April 2004, the team recruited 3,132 women in the three areas who were planning a pregnancy or who had been pregnant for fewer than 12 weeks. They collected extensive information on the volunteers, including their patterns of water use such as drinking and bathing and what later happened with their pregnancies and births. Among tests the women underwent were ultrasound examinations to collect more detailed information about their pregnancies.

Researchers then, after adjusting for such factors as age, education, alcohol use and prior pregnancy histories, analyzed the data to see what effects the byproduct compounds might have had on pregnancy loss (miscarriage).

The study uncovered no clear-cut evidence that trihalomethanes harmed women or their developing infants and as a result differed significantly from the Northern California research, Savitz said. The new work did suggest that brominated compounds and total organic halides at normal-range levels in purified drinking water might modestly increase the risk of miscarriages among pregnant women.

"These latter findings suggest that we or others should take a closer look at individual and groups of chemicals that might have a negative effect on pregnancy," he said. "I don't want to downplay those findings and say they were perfectly reassuring because they were not. But overall -- on balance -- I'd say this work moves the evidence in a reassuring direction and should serve to lessen concerns."

Because of the overall negative results, he and his colleagues do not plan to make policy recommendations to water managers and municipalities, he said. If possible, future comparabl e studies ought to include methods for determining actual exposures to purification byproducts more accurately.

"We also looked at exposure to these chemicals in relation to preterm births and did not find an association," Savitz said. "If anything, we found the opposite -- that higher-exposure populations had slightly lower risks. There was some indication, however, that reduced fetal growth might be associated with higher exposure levels."

Particularly helpful to the study were the women who participated and the participating water work utilities, he said.

"We are grateful to all these people since we could not have done this useful study without their active cooperation," Savitz said.

A number of earlier investigations have suggested that long-term exposure to water purification byproducts might be related to bladder cancer, an issue not addressed in the present study.


Source:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related biology news :

1. Major breakthrough in the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases
2. Major advance made on DNA structure
3. Major WHO study concludes calcium supplements can reduce complications during pregnancy
4. Major obesity gene is lost in the shuffle
5. Major initiative proposed to address amphibian crisis
6. Major cancer study aims to identify protein markers for early-stage disease
7. Major link in brain-obesity puzzle found
8. Major gene study uncovers secrets of leukemia
9. Ultrasounds show mothers drinking shrinks fetal brain
10. Brains can recover from alcoholic damage but patients should stop drinking as soon as possible
11. New UD technology removes viruses from drinking water
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today announced broader entry into the automotive market with ... match the pace of consumer electronics human interface innovation. ... are ideal for the automotive industry and will be ... Europe , Japan ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , October 29, 2015 ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce ... announces that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover ... the Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for this ... ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) (OTCQX: PFSCF) ("ProMetic" ... , President and Chief Executive Officer of ProMetic, will be ... th Annual Healthcare Conference to be held at the ... st , at 8.50am (ET) and ProMetic,s management team ... presentation will be available live via a webcast accessible at ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nev. , Nov. 24, 2015  PDL BioPharma, Inc. ... P. McLaughlin , the company,s president and chief executive officer, ... Healthcare Conference next week in New York City ... occur on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. EST. ... Please connect to the website at least 15 minutes prior ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 According to two new studies, ... This is something that many doctors, scientists, and public health ... remains: with fewer PSA tests being done, will there be ... Dr. David Samadi, "Despite the efforts made in ... the second leading cancer cause of death in men, killing ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... 2015 China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: ... of cord blood collection, laboratory testing, hematopoietic stem cell ... preliminary unaudited financial results for the second quarter and ... 2015. --> --> ... for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased by ...
Breaking Biology Technology: