Scientists have long known about fluorides benefit to teeth. This is why it is added to toothpaste, and why it is used for professional cleanings at the dentist. It is also the reason fluoride is typically added to the public water supply. However, there is new evidence that suggests it may not always be a good thing, particularly for women who are with child.
Christine Till is an associate professor of psychology at Toronto’s York University. She has been wondering about the potential downsides to fluoride and, in a new study, advises that we need more evidence of its affects on pregnant women and their young children. For the study, she and her colleagues analyzed an existing study of more than 500 mothers and their babies, which focused on six Canadian cities.
She attests, “It’s important that decisions about safety need to be based on evidence. It turned out that about half of the sample were cities, like Toronto, where they add fluoride to drinking water and the other half, like Montreal and Vancouver, were cities where they do not add fluoride to drinking water.”
With this as a base for the study, the scientists next assessed fluoride exposure in two ways. First, they measured fluoride in urine samples collected during pregnancy. Second they calculated overall fluoride consumption based on the amount supplemented through a city’s water supply and how much of this water each women drank.
She explains the results showed “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.”
Essentially, they found that fluoride appears to be related to IQ points. Now, the difference is somewhat minimal but the spread appears to be wider when you compare those found to have the highest exposure with those with the lowest exposure.
While the differences in this study were, in fact, small, Till comments that the impact would be more pronounced on a population level because it would equate to several million children with notable intellectual disability (or an IQ under 70).