June 2, 2021 1:45 pm

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is concerned about research indicating there is a link between nitrate exposure during pregnancy and poor birth outcomes.

“Recent research indicates that there is a link to low birth weights and premature births from nitrate exposure while pregnant which could lead to a lifetime economic burden of NZ$90,000 for each prem baby,” says Health Convenor and Board Member Malvina Dick.

“Some of the adverse health outcomes include neural tube defects, small for gestation age, low birth weights and preterm births as well possible ongoing health issues.

“Exposure to nitrate levels above 5mg/l in drinking water increased the odds of a preterm birth (20-31 weeks) by 47%, while exposure above 10mg/l increased the odds 2.5 times.

“Those most at risk are pregnant women drinking water from unregistered supplies with this level of nitrate and greater – and these women will be in rural New Zealand.

“If you are pregnant, live in rural New Zealand and don’t use town/city water, please be cautious about drinking the water unless you know the nitrate levels are below 5mg/l nitrate nitrogen – please get your water tested regularly especially if it is common practice in your area to use nitrogen fertiliser.

“Due consideration must be given to amending the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand to reduce the acceptable levels of nitrate in drinking water to well below the 11mg/l they are at present.

“Our children are our future and reducing nitrate exposure during pregnancy is necessary to ensure healthy, strong babies,” says Mrs Dick.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Angela McLeod on 027 497 2761 or

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