Quality of community drinking water and the occurrence of spontaneous abortion

Arch Environ Health. 1989 Sep-Oct;44(5):283-90. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1989.9935895.


To investigate the relationship between community drinking water quality and spontaneous abortion, we compared trace element levels in the drinking water of 286 women having a spontaneous abortion through 27 wk gestation with that of 1,391 women having livebirths. Trace element levels were gathered from routine analyses of public tap water supplies from the communities where the women resided during pregnancy. After adjustment for potential confounders, an increase in the frequency of spontaneous abortion was associated with detectable levels of mercury; high levels of arsenic, potassium, and silica; moderately hard water, and surface water. In contrast, a decrease in the frequency of spontaneous abortion was associated with high levels of alkalinity and sulfate, and any detectable level of nitrate. These results require further corroboration because there is a paucity of data investigating this issue.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Hardness
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Mercury / analysis
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Silicon Dioxide / analysis
  • Trace Elements / analysis*
  • Water Supply / analysis
  • Water Supply / standards*


  • Trace Elements
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Potassium