Blog > Contaminated Water and Birth Defects

January has been deemed Birth Defects Month which caused us to take a look at the correlation of contaminated water and incidences of birth defects in the United States. Currently, the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States is from birth defects which are responsible for 20% of all infant deaths. It has been estimated that 1 in 33 babies are born each year with a documented birth defect, ranging from fairly mild to so serve that it leads to death. There are many factors that can contribute to a birth defect, but the leading causes are from inherited genes or gene mutation, environmental conditions and high risk behavior during pregnancy.

Oftentimes abnormalities form during the first trimester of pregnancy when the organs are just beginning to develop. Expecting mothers need to be extra vigilant throughout their pregnancy to keep their baby safe and not expose it to harmful contaminants. One of the largest environmental contributors to birth defects in infants comes from drinking contaminated tap water, especially during those crucial first few months.

There was a study done which looked at the correlation of agricultural chemicals and birth defects. They conclusively determined that during the months of April through July when the concentration of agrichemicals in surface water were the highest, there was a significant increase of birth defects in infants whose mothers who got pregnant during that time period.

The largest contributing compound in agrichemical contamination is nitrates. Nitrates are predominately used in fertilizer and can easily leach into the ground contaminating our water supply. They happen to be the most widespread chemical contaminant found in our water supply today and can lead to serious birth defects such a spina bifida, cleft palate and missing limbs.

The only way to remove nitrates from water is to use a water filtration system. There are currently water filtration systems on the market that can reduce the level of nitrates to non-detect levels making tap water safe for consumption. Private wells are especially susceptible to nitrate contamination so if you currently rely on a private well, make sure to have your water tested and install a filtration system if any nitrates are detected in your water. Let’s all do our part to help reduce the prevalence of birth defects in our country.