In a nutshell
Swimming in a chlorinated pool is safe during pregnancy. In fact, it’s a great – and recommended – way to exercise when you’re pregnant.
There have been a few scary stories about the byproducts in chlorinated water potentially being harmful enough to cause birth defects but experts say the research these stories was based on doesn’t provide any conclusive evidence.
What the experts say
There’s no evidence to suggest the amount of chlorine in a swimming pool would do anyone any harm.
In fact, chlorine’s job in a pool is to disinfect it, to help keep it clean from other bacteria that could potentially be harmful.
It won’t harm you if you happen to swallow a bit of pool water during your swim, either.
Has any research been done?
Minimal research has been done – and that hasn’t really shown anything concrete about whether chlorine could affect pregnancy in any way.
The focus of what little existing studies there are is something called THM levels, and whether these have any impact on pregnancy.
THM – also known as trihalomethanes – are the ‘group of 4 chemical by-products in chlorinated water’, according to the NHS website.
One study, from Taiwan in 2008, made waves at the time with big, scary headlines in the UK press about how THM levels could possibly increase the risk of birth defects.
However, the NHS website pretty clearly surmised that the study was very small, didn’t follow the women during their pregnancy (rather basing its findings on estimates) and that the researchers themselves concluded:
“Our results showed no consistent association between exposure and risk of birth defects in general.”
Another study, from Britain in 2002, looked at the effects of THM levels on pregnancy, but ultimately said it’s results were “inconsistent and inconclusive”.
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