A recent study performed in Canada and published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics produced results showing that fluoride exposure during pregnancy may have an adverse effect on children’s intelligence. While more research is necessary to provide definitive statistics, the study has been cited as “one of the most rigorous studies” in this field and praised for its methodology and use of over twenty covariates.
The Canadian study focused on more than 500 mother-child pairs from six different cities and spanned a four-year period. Half of the cities had fluoridated water supplies, while the remaining cities did not add fluoride to their drinking water. Maternal urine samples were collected during each trimester of pregnancy, and tap water intake was self-reported by each mother during the first and third trimesters. Tap water used for drinks such as coffee and tea was included in the intake volume.
Fluoride consumption was calculated based on the urine concentration, as well as the levels of fluoride in the city water supply ingested. Unsurprisingly, women who lived in cities with fluoridated water had a higher median urine concentration than those women living in cities without fluoridated water (.69 mg/L versus .4 mg/L).
The children were later tested between the ages of three and four using the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scale of Intelligence–III to determine their IQ levels.
The Findings on Prenatal Fluoride Exposure
Male IQ levels showed to be lower by 4.49 points per each additional 1mg/L of maternal fluoride, while female IQ levels had no significant difference with varying maternal urinary fluoride amounts. Background notes from researchers suggest that fluoride crossing the placenta can accumulate in the regions of the brain that involve learning and memory.
While the exposure to higher fluoride levels cannot be definitively proven as the cause for the drop in IQ scores, there is cause for concern. Authors and supporters of the study have not made any recommendations concerning water fluoridation policies, instead, suggest that women simply reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.
At this time, fluoride consumption has no known health benefits to an unborn baby, so reducing fluoride intake as a precautionary measure is not considered detrimental to the baby in any way. Keep in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called water fluoridation one of the greatest achievements in twentieth-century public health, so halting fluoride consumption altogether during pregnancy is not recommended, as it is still beneficial to the mother’s oral health.
If you have questions or concerns about fluoride consumption during pregnancy, please contact our office for a consultation.
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