Trihalomethanes in drinking water and spontaneous abortion

Epidemiology. 1998 Mar;9(2):134-40.


Trihalomethanes (chloroform, bromoform, bromodichloromethane, and chlorodibromomethane) are common contaminants of chlorinated drinking water. Although animal data indicate that these compounds may be reproductive toxicants, little information exists on their relation to spontaneous abortion in humans. We examined exposure to trihalomethanes and spontaneous abortion in a prospective study of 5,144 pregnant women in a prepaid health plan. Seventy-eight drinking water utilities provided concurrent trihalomethane sampling data. We calculated total trihalomethane levels by averaging all measurements taken by the subject's utility during her first trimester. We calculated exposures to individual trihalomethanes in an analogous manner. Women who drank > or = 5 glasses per day of cold tapwater containing > or = 75 micrograms per liter total trihalomethanes had an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 1.8 for spontaneous abortion [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-3.0]. Of the four individual trihalomethanes, only high bromodichloromethane exposure (consumption of > or = 5 glasses per day of cold tapwater containing > or = 18 micrograms per liter bromodichloromethane) was associated with spontaneous abortion both alone (adjusted OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.2-3.5) and after adjustment for the other trihalomethanes (adjusted OR = 3.0; 95% CI = 1.4-6.6).

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*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chlorofluorocarbons, Methane / adverse effects*
  • Drinking*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / adverse effects*
  • Water Supply / analysis
  • Water Supply / standards*


  • Chlorofluorocarbons, Methane
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical