Does tap water lead to deformed children?

August 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm

There’s always something women should or shouldn’t do when they’re pregnant. Just when women think they have it all worked out, new research carried out in Taiwan is certainly set to pour cold water over everything.

Professors in Taiwan have found a link between the chemicals formed during the chlorination of tap water and certain defects in children born to mothers exposed to these chemicals.

Trihalomethanes (or THMs for short) are not only found in tap water but in showers and swimming pools. One in every six households within the UK is said to contain higher than average levels of THMs. Conditions such as hole-in-the-heart, cleft palates and a skull deformity called anencephalus are thought to be caused by the chemicals and said to damage the baby in the womb or even the woman’s eggs in her ovaries.

The chemicals are produced at various stages in the chlorination and disinfectant processes and even water filters might not be enough to remove them. Even bottled mineral water is said to contain traces of THMs, which means nothing is safe now. One of the scientists leading the research, Professor Jouni Jaakkola, hasn’t suggested we go thirsty in the UK but just that we should be aware that if the levels of THMs rise any further then we might see a rise in deformities in babies.

Water UK, which regulates the safety of the water in the UK, isn’t getting into a paddy about it though. They are said to be taking on board the research but stressing that people should not stop drinking or showering in the UK and reaffirming that the age-old process of chlorination is tried and tested and completely safe.

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