Research by a scientific body has revealed that the chemical perchlorate, which can be found in drinking water, can be harmful to women in the latter stages of pregnancy.

The chemical, which is also often found in products like fertiliser and fireworks, is known to disrupt hormone production.

It can make its way into groundwater, especially in locations where manufacturing activities take place, or where rocket fuel is made or used – perchlorate is used to start rockets and other weapons – and can also be present in drinking water.

Presenting new research recently at the annual Society for Endocrinology Conference in Harrogate, scientists revealed that in pregnant women, frequent exposure to perchlorate may decrease the level of important thyroid hormone T4 produced, which is vital for foetal brain development, Time magazine reports.

In tests on more than 300 women from south-west England, exposure to the chemical was found to affect the thyroid function of women in the third trimester of pregnancy, reducing the uptake of iodine from the blood into the thyroid gland.

The researchers, whose findings have been published in medical journal Endocrine Abstracts, commented that exposure to environmental perchlorate “may have an adverse impact on neurocognitive development” of the foetus.

Time magazine reports that a lack of T4 in pregnancy can lead to developmental issues after birth and advises pregnant women to take extra care about exposing themselves to perchlorate.

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