BackgroundEpidemiological studies suggest that exposure to water disinfection by-products (DBPs) may increase the risk of certain birth defects. However, evidence for musculoskeletal defects (MSDs) is limited. Previous MSD studies have not examined DBPs beyond trihalomethanes (THMs) and have not separately examined limb or diaphragm defects which may have distinct developmental etiologies.
MethodsWe calculated adjusted odds ratios (aORs) in a registry-based case-control study of birth defects in Massachusetts with complete quarterly 1999-2004 data on four THMs and five haloacetic acids (HAAs). We matched 10 controls each to 187 MSD cases based on week of conception. Weight-averaged town-level first-trimester DBP exposures were individually assigned based on residence at birth. We adjusted THM models for exposure to the sum of five HAAs (HAA5), and HAA models for the sum of four THMs (THM4).
ResultsWe detected positive exposure-response associations for all grouped MSDs with THM4 quintiles (aOR range: 1.90-3.18) and chloroform quartiles (aOR range: 1.30-2.21), and for reduction of upper or lower limbs with chloroform quartiles (aOR range: 2.39-3.52). We detected elevated aORs for diaphragmatic hernia with DBP9 (sum of THM4 and HAA5), and chloroform and bromodichloromethane tertiles and an exposure-response relationship for THM4 tertiles (aOR range: 1.67-1.80).
ConclusionsThis is the first epidemiological study to examine HAAs in relation to MSDs. Given the indirect nature of our exposure assessment data and small case numbers, the exposure-response relationships that we detected for THM4 and chloroform warrant further investigation.
SUBMITTER: Kaufman JA