Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

01.08.2005


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 facilities, 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 comparable 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.

David Williamson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>