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Daily News Blog

21
Aug

Children’s IQ Negatively Impacted by Maternal Fluoride Exposure, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2019) A birth cohort study in Canada found elevated levels of fluoride exposure during pregnancy are associated with lower IQ scores in 3 to 4-year-old children. This new research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, builds on previous analyses that suggest high fluoride exposure is related to adverse effects to children’s neurodevelopment. Researchers recommend that pregnant mothers should reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy. Noting the controversy of the study, JAMA Pediatrics editor Dr. Dimitri Christakis said it was subjected to “additional scrutiny for its methods and the presentation of its findings.”

The Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) program recruited pregnant mothers to participate in the study from 2008-2011. A total of 601 mother-child pairs from 6 major cities participated; 41% of them lived in cities with fluoridated municipal water. Exposure was measured through urine samples as well as self-reported maternal daily intake. Children were between ages 3 and 4 when tested for IQ.

A 1mg/L increase in maternal urinary fluoride is associated with a 3.7-point decrease in IQ. These findings echo a previous study in Mexico that found a 6-point lower IQ score in school-age children associated with a 1mg/L in maternal urinary fluoride. Women who live in communities with fluoridated drinking water have a significantly higher intake of fluoride (0.93mg/day) on average than women who did not (0.3mg/day). Christine Till, one of the study authors, told NPR, “Only boys were affected when we looked at urinary fluoride, but both boys and girls were affected when we looked at maternal fluoride intake or water fluoride concentration.”

Fluoride impacts the fetus as it crosses the placenta and accumulates in parts of the brain associated with learning and memory. Fluoride alters central nervous system proteins and neurotransmitters during the developmental phase.

Before fluoride dental products were widely available, the U.S. Public Health Service introduced water fluoridation in the 1950s to reduce dental problems. In 2015, the U.S. lowered the optimal fluoride concentration from 0.7-1.2mg/L to 0.7mg/L after overexposure to fluoride caused 68% of adolescents to have enamel fluorosis – a disorder characterized by hypomineralization of tooth enamel appearing as discoloration and sometimes causing physical damage to the tooth. The authors of this study note, “The beneficial effects of fluoride predominantly occur at the tooth surface after the teeth have erupted. Therefore, there is no benefit of systemic exposure to fluoride during pregnancy for the prevention of caries [tooth decay] in offspring. The evidence showing an association between fluoride exposure and lower IQ scores raises a possible new concern about cumulative exposures to fluoride during pregnancy, even among pregnant women exposed to optimally fluoridated water.”

David Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, noted that the effect size is comparable to what is seen with childhood lead exposure. Bellinger told NPR that various routes of exposure should be considered, like food, tea and toothpaste. Black tea has a particularly high fluoride content (2.6 mg/L).

Additionally, Beyond Pesticides has often written about the importance of considering sulfuryl fluoride, more commonly known as vikane gas, in the analysis of fluoride tolerances. Sulfuryl fluoride is an inorganic chemical often used for the fumigation of closed structures such as barns, storage buildings, commercial warehouses, ships in port, and railroad cars and thus also found on their stored contents like grains and other crops. It is intended to target termites, powder post beetles, bedbugs, and other pests. It has been linked to cancer as well as neurological, developmental, and reproductive damages.  Expectant mothers can lower their exposure to fluoride on food by buying organic produce that bars the use of sulfuryl fluoride.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Sources: JAMA Pediatrics, NPR

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One Response to “Children’s IQ Negatively Impacted by Maternal Fluoride Exposure, According to Study”

  1. 1
    Ellen Connett Says:

    Aside from the structural fumigant Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride) there is the post-harvest fumigant called ProFume, which is also sulfuryl fluoride, and it was the replacement for Methel Bromide. When EPA first approved tolerances for ProFume in 2004, and again in 2005, Beyond Pesticides worked with the Fluoride Action Network and EWG to oppose them because it leaves a very high residue of fluoride on all fumigated foods and grains. The brain was the target organ in all the animal studies. It was known at the time that it was highly neurotoxic. The three groups got the EPA to agree with our position when EPA recommended a phase-out of its use on food. However, Dow AgroSciences put a lot of pressure on the U.S. Congress and they over-rode EPA’s suggested phase-out in the Farm Bill of 2014.

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