Is it safe to drink tap water abroad when pregnant?

Nutritionist Dr Rana Conway advises water safety, risks of hepatitis A and diarrhoea when travelling to a foreign country

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In a nutshell

Be careful in some countries 

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The expert view

In countries with poor sanitation,you’ll need to avoid:

– drinking tap water

– using tap water to brush your teeth

– drinks with ice in them

– you should also check whether food has been washed in tap water or bottled or boiled water (see below).

Why avoid the tap water?

Water in these countries may contain bacteria and organisms that can cause diarrhoea, Hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid.

To check whether the water is safe to drink in a particular country, there’s a free iOS app you can download called Water Advisor.

NHS advice

The NHS advises using bottled water, or boiled water, rather than using water purification tablets to sterilise the water. This is because purification tablets contain chlorine and iodine and may not kill all parasites.

What do you do about foods that need washing in water?

There can also be hidden dangers in foods which need washing, such as salads, warns nutritionist Dr Rana Conway.

“Sticking to bottled water and avoiding ice is fairly straightforward but it’s not always easy to find out how well salads or fruit have been washed,” she points out. “If in doubt stick to hot food and only eat fruit that you peel yourself such as oranges and bananas, then you don’t need to worry about washing them.”

Is tap water OK in France and Spain?

The advice is to take care. In European countries, such as France and Spain, where the tap water is treated and safe to drink, it may be worth sticking to bottled if you are concerned. This is because the slightly different methods of treatment could cause a tummy upset. 

Mums on our forum say

“[We went to South Africa and] although the tap water is fine to drink I would stick to bottled. My brother had a runny tummy at the end of our trip (my whole family went for a visit this time) but I was totally fine. Also carry a bottle of water in your bag wherever you go. I was drinking so much due to the warm weather.” JvLwithBabyBoy

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Most mums on our forums say they stick to bottled water on holiday while pregnant, just to be on the safe side.

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