Little Things Matter

Fluoride

Fluoride

Fluoride

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The impact of Fluoride on children

At high levels (endemic fluorosis areas or those above the maximum contaminant level goal in the U.S; 4.0 mg/L), health concerns related to fluoride include a higher risk of bone damage, disruption of the endocrine system, and cognitive impairments. At lower levels (i.e., those typically found in areas where fluoride is added to water supplies; between 0.7-4 mg/L), emerging evidence from Canada, Mexico, and China, suggests that fluoride exposure, specifically during pregnancy or early infancy when the brain is rapidly developing, may be associated with decreased intelligence.

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Ways to reduce and avoid Fluoride

  1. Use a water filter that removes fluoride (i.e., reverse osmosis, deionizers, or ion-exchange resins)
  2. If possible, breastfeed you baby. Otherwise, choose an alternative to fluoridated water to prepare infant formula
  3. Pregnant women may choose to avoid black teas, which typically contain high levels of fluoride.
  4. Children should only use a rice-sized amount of toothpaste when they brush their teeth and should not swallow toothpaste. Children who cannot spit (i.e., under two or three) should not use fluoridated toothpaste.
  5. Eat fresh foods that are non-processed and preferably organic, especially during pregnancy.

Recent research on Fluoride

Over the past 75 years, health authorities have declared that community water fluoridation–a practice that reaches over 400 million worldwide–is safe. Yet, studies conducted in North America examining the safety of fluoride exposure in pregnancy were nonexistent. When a Canadian study reported that higher fluoride exposure in pregnant women was associated with lower IQ scores in young children, critics attacked the methodology of the study and discounted the significance of the results. Health authorities continued to conclude that fluoride is unequivocally safe, despite four well-conducted studies over the last 3 years consistently linking fluoride exposure in pregnancy with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in offspring.

Research articles

Fourteen recent cross-sectional studies from endemic areas with naturally high fluoride concentrations in groundwater supported the previous findings of cognitive deficits in children with elevated fluoride exposures. Three recent prospective studies from Mexico and Canada with individual exposure data showed that early-life exposures were negatively associated with children’s performance on cognitive tests. Neurotoxicity appeared to be dose-dependent, and tentative benchmark dose calculations suggest that safe exposures are likely to be below currently accepted or recommended fluoride concentrations in drinking water.

Author: Phillip Grandjean, 2019

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In this prospective birth cohort study from 6 cities in Canada, higher levels of fluoride exposure during pregnancy were associated with lower IQ scores in children measured at age 3 to 4 years. These findings were observed at fluoride levels typically found in white North American women. This indicates the possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.

Author: Rivka Green, 2019

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This review focuses on the synthesis of current experimental and observational data regarding the effect of fluoride exposure on childhood mental health and the role of mitochondrial function as a mechanism of action. We aggregated data on the relationships between fluoride neurotoxicity, mitochondrial function, and cognitive and mental health using PubMed. Current animal and human research suggest that prenatal and perinatal fluoride exposure might have neurotoxic effects. These studies observed physical changes (fur loss and delayed reflex development in animals), intelligence loss, increased hyperactivity, and irregular moods associated with fluoride exposure.

Author: Emily Adkins, 2021

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Epidemiological studies assessing prenatal fluoride exposure and anthropometry at birth are scarce, inconsistent and with methodological limitations. The aim of this study was to evaluate associations between maternal urinary fluoride (MUF) at each trimester of pregnancy and birth weight and length in 536 mother-child pairs in the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) cohort study.

• Salt is one of the main sources of fluoride exposure in Mexican population.

• Fluoride exposure is linked to adverse fetal and maternal outcomes.

• Maternal Fluoride (first trimester) was associated with birth weight increase.

• Maternal Fluoride (third trimester) was associated with birth weight decrease.

• Women should avoid sources of fluoride exposure during pregnancy.

Author: Ortiz-Garcia, 2022

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