Hypospadias is a congenital anomaly that affects up to 70 in 10 000 males. Ingestion of drinking-water–disinfection byproducts such as trihalomethanes (THMs) has been associated with hypospadias in a small sample. We examined risk of hypospadias and exposure to THMs through water consumption and use.
Between September 2000 and March 2003, we interviewed mothers of 471 boys with hypospadias and 490 controls in southeast England about maternal water consumption, dishwashing, showering, bathing and swimming. We obtained residential THM concentrations from the water companies and linked them by using Geographical Information Systems, which provided data on 468 case-subjects and 485 controls.
THM exposures, except for ingestion of ≥6 μg/day of bromodichloromethane (odds ratio [OR]: 1.65 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02–2.69]), were not associated with risk of hypospadias. Elevated risk of hypospadias was associated with estimates of consumption of cold tap water at home (OR: 1.71 [95% CI: 1.07–2.76]), total water (OR: 1.70 [95% CI: 1.09–2.67]), bottled water (OR: 1.64 [95% CI: 1.09–2.48]), and total fluid (OR: 1.55 [95% CI: 1.01–2.39]) for the highest versus the lowest categories; the first 2 showed dose-response trends.
Evidence for an association between maternal water consumption and risk of hypospadias did not seem to be explained by THM exposure. Factors that influence maternal water consumption or other contaminants in tap or bottled water might explain this finding. It is important that women maintain an adequate fluid intake during pregnancy.