The internet serves as a sort of battlefield of opinions for so many topics, from medicine to politics to religion. The debate over the safety of fluoride has been one of those channels you could tune into whenever you wanted to watch the two sides grapple, wielding not just opinions but studies to try and disprove the other’s position. Today, we share one of the recent studies indicating that at some point, a child can get too much fluoride and suffer some cognitive effects. Before throwing fluoride completely into the trash, keep the dosages in mind as you read this study comparing cognitive performance in Ethiopian children who were exposed to different levels of fluoride in water supplies.
The anti-fluoride camp has proclaimed for years that this substance was really a toxic byproduct of other industrial production looking for a profitable dumping ground. There is truth to the reality that the countless gallons of fluoride added to our water supply comes from industrial byproducts. That does not automatically mean that we should shun the chemical. The practice of finding beneficial uses of industrial byproducts is not inherently evil. On the other hand, the pro-fluoride camp loses credibility for many when they will not acknowledge the studies demonstrating some negative effects to fluoride. Like any therapy whether administered to individuals or to populations it can have both positive and negative effects. We need honest evaluation of whether the large-scale fluoridation of water supplies is a good idea.
The present study does not definitively answer whether we should continue large scale fluoridation of water, but it does support the stance that children can get too much fluoride. In the study, they looked at children in Ethiopian villages and compared children using water from high fluoride wells versus those with lower fluoride. Other variables were relatively well matched given the common lifestyle of these children. The primary variable depended on the levels of fluoride in their primary water supply.
The study compared 74 children using tests of their ability to draw familiar objects like animals and a computerized memory test. For children with higher fluoride levels, they showed higher errors on the drawing test and the memory tests. While they did not attempt to study the mechanism for this correlation, the authors did call for more research to understand the safe levels for fluoride and how this chemical impacted neurodevelopment. This was also based on animal research demonstrating that fluoride can cross the placenta and blood-brain barrier as well as epidemiological links between higher exposure and lower IQ levels.
Once again, this study is not a final word on the matter of fluoridated water. The levels in the Ethiopian water supply were much higher than levels found in U.S. water supplies. Nevertheless, we must evaluate the total exposure children receive through water and toothpaste. The combined levels may be causing neurocognitive effects that can be avoided. Helping our future generations live healthier, more abundant lives means providing safe water and wise public health policies.
Tewodros Rango Godebo, Marc Jeuland, Redda Tekle-Haimanot, Biniyam Alemayehu, Arti Shankar, Amy Wolfe, Nati Phan. Association between fluoride exposure in drinking water and cognitive deficits in children: A pilot study. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2023; 100: 107293 DOI: 10.1016/j.ntt.2023.107293
Thanks to Science Daily:
Tulane University. “Excess fluoride linked to cognitive impairment in children.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/10/231026161112.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.