Fluoride Consequences: New Research Links Prenatal Exposure to Child Behavior Problems

by | Jun 26, 2024 | Fluoride | 0 comments

When you take fluoride into your body, its effects can go well beyond your pearly whites – and not in a good way. It’s a matter of special concern to those who are pregnant, as the exposure isn’t limited to them. Their unborn children are exposed, as well.

pregnant woman drinking waterThrough recent years, evidence of fluoride’s potential to damage developing brains has only grown stronger, with numerous studies showing that prenatal fluoride exposure may result in lower IQ scores in children.

Now, research in JAMA Network Open has found that fluoride exposure during pregnancy is associated with an increased likelihood of emotional and behavioral challenges in their children.

The study analyzed more than 220 mother-child pairs. Researchers estimated fluoride exposure by measuring fluoride levels in urine samples from pregnant women. Children’s behavior was assessed at age three based on their mothers’ responses on the Preschool Child Behavior Checklist, a standard measure of neurobehavior.

Neurobehavior refers to any behavioral response that results from the processing of the central nervous system. Neurobehavioral problems includes things like emotional reactivity, attention issues, anxiety, somatic complaints (headaches, for instance, or bellyaches), and symptoms linked to autism.

The research team found that a 0.68 milligram per liter increase in fluoride exposure was associated with nearly double the chance of a child showing neurobehavioral problems in a range considered close to or at a level to meet the criteria for clinical diagnosis.

“This is the first U.S.-based study to examine this association,” said lead author Dr. Ashley Malin in a news release.

Our findings are noteworthy, given that the women in this study were exposed to pretty low levels of fluoride – levels that are typical of those living in fluoridated regions within North America.

These findings come on the heels of the National Toxicology Program’s comprehensive 6-year review which found, “with moderate confidence, that higher fluoride exposure…is consistently associated with lower IQ in children.” Its authors found evidence of other neurodevelopmental and cognitive effects, as well.

Such evidence is key in an ongoing lawsuit under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to end water fluoridation. Filed in 2016 after the EPA rejected a petition to stop the practice, the lawsuit cites numerous studies linking fluoride ingestion to lower IQ and increased ADHD rates in children.

Hearings resumed early this year in a second phase of the lawsuit, but a ruling on the case has yet to be handed down.

Meantime, regardless of public policy, it’s clear that all of us – not just pregnant women – need to steer clear of ingesting fluoride. Unfortunately, it’s more than just a matter of avoiding fluoridated water. Fluoride can be found in many everyday items, such as certain prescription drugs, oral hygiene products, and nonstick cookware. It’s also common in the pesticides used so widely on conventionally grown food sources and can even turn up in the air we breathe, courtesy of industrial air pollution.

Any of us may be exposed every day to more fluoride than we might realize. Even so, there are steps you can take to limit your exposure. Here are our top five:

  1. Eat organic: Choosing organic produce helps you avoid fluoride that’s used in pesticides and fertilizers.
  2. Filter your tap water: The most common water pitcher filters don’t always get rid of fluoride. Invest in a reverse osmosis, deionizer, or activated alumina filter to remove fluoride from your tap water. You’ll find detailed info on filtering choices here.
  3. Choose your bottled water carefully: Opt for spring water or fluoride-free options. This search tool will give you the fluoride content of more than 300 brands.
  4. Avoid cooking with nonstick pans: While nonstick coating can make dishwashing easier, it typically contains fluoride. Switch to cast iron or stainless steel instead.
  5. Choose a holistic, biological dentist for your oral health care: We don’t use fluoride in any form in our Arlington office. Our water is fluoride-free (and ozonated, too!). So are the composite resins we use to restore teeth.

Making informed choices about your food, water, and dental care can go a long way toward reducing your fluoride exposure and supporting your overall health and well-being.

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