One in six couples experience fertility problems. Environmental factors may affect reproductive health; however, evidence is lacking regarding drinking water nitrates and outcomes of male and female fertility. The aim of this study was to investigate if exposure to nitrates in drinking water is associated with adverse reproductive outcomes in humans, and animals of fertile age. We conducted a systematic literature search and included case-control studies, cohort studies, and randomized control trials reporting on the association between drinking water nitrate exposure of men, women, or animals and adverse reproductive outcomes, specified as: Semen quality parameters, time to pregnancy (TTP), pregnancy rates, assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and spontaneous abortion. Findings were reported in a narrative synthesis. A total of 12 studies were included. The only human study included reported a decrease in spontaneous abortion at any detectable nitrate level. Overall, the 11 included animal studies support a potential negative effect on semen quality parameters but report equivocal results on TTP and number of offspring produced, and higher risk of spontaneous abortion. In conclusion, animal studies indicate possible effects on semen quality parameters and spontaneous abortion. However, with a few studies, including some with methodological limitations and small sample sizes, caution must be applied when interpreting these results.
- Programområde 2: Vandressourcer