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Yet Another Study Shows Fluoride Exposure May Harm Children’s Developing Minds

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Earlier this year, we looked at some of the recent research on the neurotoxic effects of fluoride, including a comprehensive report from the National Toxicology Program. That report was a six-year systematic review of the science and considered all potential sources of fluoride: drinking water, dental products, processed foods, pesticides, and more. The report was externally peer reviewed twice.

While “the body of evidence from studies in adults is…limited and provides low confidence that fluoride exposure is associated with adverse effects on adult cognition,” the NTP authors wrote,

there is…a large body of evidence on IQ effects in children. There is also some evidence that fluoride exposure is associated with other neurodevelopmental and cognitive effects in children; although, because of the heterogeneity of the outcomes, there is low confidence in the literature for these other effects. This review finds, with moderate confidence, that higher fluoride exposure (e.g., represented by populations whose total fluoride exposure approximates or exceeds the World Health Organization Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality of 1.5 mg/L of fluoride) is consistently associated with lower IQ in children. [emphasis added]

Since then, even more on this topic has been published, including a study just published in Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

The study focused on fluoride exposure from drinking water in rural Ethiopia, with concentrations ranging from a low of 0.4 mg/L to a very high 15.5 mg/L. (Here in the US, the standard concentration in fluoridated water is 0.7 mg/L.)

Seventy-four children took part. In addition to having their urine tested for fluoride exposure, they were each given two tests to measure their cognitive ability. One tested their ability to draw familiar objects. The other was a standard computerized memory test, which is language and culture neutral. This second test is closely associated with hippocampus function, the part of the brain that’s associated with memory, learning, and emotion.

“Fluoride in drinking water,” wrote the authors after completing their analysis, “was negatively associated with cognitive function” in both tests. The greater the exposure, the more mistakes the children made on the test.

The authors hope to conduct future studies involving greater numbers of children, as well as comparative studies in areas where fluoride concentrations in drinking water are low.

As lead author Tewodros Godebo of Tulane University said in a news release,

We have a unique opportunity to study low fluoride communities in the same setting as high fluoride communities, so we can determine if fluoride is a neurotoxicant at low levels. Such studies are important to the public and government agencies to determine the safety and risk of water fluoridation in drinking water supply systems.

In the meantime, we advise using only fluoride-free oral hygiene products, limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods, and making sure that the water you drink is fluoride-free. Here are some resources to help:

Two of those resources come courtesy of a site called The Truth About Fluoride, which offers comprehensive information about fluoride, its health effects, its sources, and how to avoid it. Other excellent sources of information on these matters include the IAOMT and the Fluoride Action Network.

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