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Arsenic in drinking water and adverse pregnancy outcome in an arseniasis-endemic area in northeastern Taiwan.

Environmental Research

Infant, Newborn, Adult, Arsenic, adverse effects, analysis, Environmental Exposure, Epidemiologic Studies, Female, Humans, Infant, Low Birth Weight, Obstetric Labor, Premature, epidemiology, etiology, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Risk Assessment, Taiwan, Water Pollutants, Water Supply

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      The well water in Lanyang Basin, which is located in the northeastern portion of Taiwan island, was found to have high levels of arsenic ranging from undetectable levels (<0.15 ppb) to 3.59 ppm. We performed a study to compare the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (preterm delivery and birthweight) between an area with historic high well water arsenic levels (arsenic-exposed area (AE)) and a comparison area with no historic evidence of arsenic water contamination (non-arsenic-exposed area (NAE)). The mean birth weight in the AEs and NAEs were 3132.6 and 3162.6 g, respectively. Babies born in AEs were on average 30 g lighter than those born in NAEs. AEs had a higher rate of preterm delivery than NAEs (3.74% vs 3.43%). The results of this study suggest that, after adjustment for potential confounders, arsenic exposure from drinking well water was associated, although not significantly, with the risk of preterm delivery, with an odds ratio of 1.10 (0.91-1.33). The estimated reduction in birth weight was 29.05 g (95% CI=13.55-44.55). The findings from this investigation provide evidence for a potential role for arsenic exposure through drinking water in increasing the risk of low birthweight.

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