Predictors of use and consumption of public drinking water among pregnant women

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2007 Mar;17(2):159-69. doi: 10.1038/sj.jes.7500488. Epub 2006 May 3.


Disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, the results from previous epidemiological studies are not consistent, perhaps in part due to individual variation in water use and consumption. This study was performed to evaluate and describe demographic and behavioral characteristics as predictors of ingested water, showering, bathing, and swimming among pregnant women. Water use and consumption data were collected through telephone interviews with 2297 pregnant women from three geographical sites in the southern United States. The data were analyzed according to demographic, health, and behavioral variables expected to be predictors of water use and thus potential confounding factors relating water use to pregnancy outcome. The candidate predictors were evaluated using backward elimination in regression models. Demographic variables tended to be more strongly predictive of the use and consumption of water than health and behavior-related factors. Non-Hispanic white women drank 0.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.2; 0.7) liters more cold tap water per day than Hispanic women and 0.3 (95% CI 0.1; 0.4) liters more than non-Hispanic black women. Non-Hispanic white women also reported drinking a higher proportion of filtered tap water, whereas Hispanic women replaced more of their tap water with bottled water. Lower socioeconomic groups reported spending a longer time showering and bathing, but were less likely to use swimming pools. The results of this study should help researchers to anticipate and better control for confounding and misclassification in studies of exposure to DBPs and pregnancy outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Disinfectants / adverse effects
  • Disinfectants / analysis*
  • Drinking
  • Female
  • Fresh Water / analysis*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / adverse effects
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Supply* / analysis
  • Water Supply* / standards
  • Water Supply* / statistics & numerical data
  • White People


  • Disinfectants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical