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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2014 Nov;217(8):813-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2014.05.002. Epub 2014 May 22.

Arsenic in drinking water and congenital heart anomalies in Hungary.

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National Institute of Environmental Health, Budapest, Hungary. Electronic address:
University of Debrecen, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Debrecen, Hungary.
National Institute of Environmental Health, Budapest, Hungary.
National Institute for Health Development, Budapest, Hungary.
Békés County Public Health Institute, Békéscsaba, Hungary.


Inorganic arsenic can get easily through the placenta however there are very few human data on congenital anomalies related to arsenic exposure. Objective of our study was to explore the associations between arsenic content of drinking water and prevalence of some congenital anomalies. Four anomalies reported to the Hungarian Congenital Anomalies Registry between 1987 and 2003 were chosen to be analysed in relation to arsenic exposure: congenital anomalies of the circulatory system (n=9734) were considered as cases, while Down syndrome, club foot and multiple congenital malformations were used as controls (n=5880). Arsenic exposure of the mothers during pregnancy was estimated by using archive measurement data for each year and for each settlement where the mothers lived. Analysis of the associations between the prevalence of congenital heart anomalies and arsenic exposure during pregnancy was performed by logistic regression. The child's gender and age of the mother were adjusted for. The associations were evaluated by using the present EU health limit value of 10.0 μg/L arsenic concentration as a cut-off point. Regular consumption of drinking water with arsenic concentration above 10 μg/L during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of congenital heart anomalies in general (adjusted OR=1.41; 95% C.I.: 1.28-1.56), and especially that of ductus Botalli persistens (adjusted OR=1.81, 95%C.I.: 1.54-2.11) and atrial septal defect (adjusted OR=1.79; 95%C.I.: 1.59-2.01). The presented results showed an increased risk of congenital heart anomalies among infants whose mothers were exposed to drinking water with arsenic content above 10 μg/L during pregnancy. Further studies of possible similar effects of concentrations below 10 μg/L are warranted.


Arsenic; Birth defects; Congenital heart anomalies; Drinking water; Teratogenicity

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