Nitrate in maternal drinking water during pregnancy and measures of male fecundity in adult sons

Pernille Jul Clemmensen, Nis Brix, Jörg Schullehner, Anne Gaml-Sørensen, Gunnar Toft, Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg, Ninna Hinchely Ebdrup, Karin Sørig Hougaard, Birgitte Hansen, Torben Sigsgaard, Henrik Albert Kolstad, Jens Peter Ellekilde Bonde, Cecilia Høst Ramlau-Hansen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Animal studies indicate deleterious effects of nitrate exposure on fecundity, but effects in humans are unknown, both for the prenatal and postnatal periods. We aimed to investigate if exposure to nitrate in maternal drinking water during the sensitive period of fetal life is associated with measures of fecundity in the adult sons. In a sub-analysis, the potential effects of nitrate exposure in adulthood were investigated. This cohort included 985 young adult men enrolled in The Fetal Programming of Semen Quality Cohort (FEPOS). Semen characteristics, testes volume and reproductive hormones were analyzed in relation to nitrate concentration in maternal drinking water, using a negative binomial regression model. The nitrate concentration in drinking water was obtained from monitoring data from Danish waterworks that were linked with the mothers’ residential address during pregnancy. The median nitrate concentration in maternal drinking water was 2 mg/L. At these low exposure levels, which are far below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline value of 50 mg/L, we did not find indications of harmful effects of nitrate on the investigated measures of male fecundity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number14428
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number21
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


    • drinking water
    • nitrate
    • prenatal exposure
    • reproduction
    • semen analysis
    • semen quality

    Programme Area

    • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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