Fluoride: Can it harm your unborn baby?
By Claudia Boyd-Barrett, BabyCenter News & Analysis
Drinking fluoridated water during pregnancy doesn’t pose an immediate health risk to your baby. But a recent study suggests that the children of pregnant women who had ingested fluoridated water during their pregnancies had lower mental functions. The study concludes there is a possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.
The large JAMA study consisted of mother-child pairs from six Canadian cities, including both fluoridated and unfluoridated municipal water supplies. The mothers were given questionnaires to establish the quantity of tap water ingested and their fluoride levels were tracked through urine tests over three trimesters of pregnancy. When intellectual functioning was evaluated once the children were 3 and 4, those whose mothers had higher levels of fluoride exposure had lower scores.
The study’s results line up with an earlier Mexican birth cohort study, which also found an association between IQ levels and fluoride exposure. The study results do have their limitations, including the fact that fluoride levels in urine have a short half-life, beverages were the only source of fluoride exposure studied, and post-natal fluoride exposure was not considered. Researchers also were relying on a “self-report of mothers’ recall of beverage consumption per day” and “did not have maternal IQ data” to baseline against the childrens’ results.
Of course, nitty-gritty aside, with nearly three-fourths of the U.S. public – and presumably three-fourths of U.S. pregnant women – drinking fluoridated water to reduce tooth decay, the results of this study are provocative. But to date, there are no loud calls for moms-to-be or others to skip fluoride.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) maintains their recommendation that women use fluoridated toothpaste to ensure good oral health. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a statement in support of fluoridated drinking water. “There are thousands of articles pointing to the safety of community water fluoridation and we need to continue to look at the impacts, but this study doesn’t change the benefits of optimally fluoridated water and exposure to fluoride,” said Patricia A. Braun, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and chair of the AAP Section on Oral Health Executive Committee.
While parents and parents-to-be wait for more study and clarity on the issue, they can exercise common sense if they’re pregnant right now, from talking to their OB about drinking bottled water to making sure they’re following the best practices on pregnancy choices they can control.
If you want to find out if your county adds fluoride to its water, you can check to see if your state is reporting its practices via the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride tool. For information on best practices during pregnancy on what to eat and drink, see BabyCenter’s Is It Safe? guide for nutrition and weight.
BabyCenter News & Analysis is an assessment of recent news designed to cut through the hype and get you what you need to know.
*Original article online at https://www.babycenter.com/0_fluoride-can-it-harm-your-unborn-baby_40006018.bc