The Carroll County Health Department has sent a letter to Carroll County health professionals, asking them to warn parents against giving fluoridated water to infants.
The letter, sent to all county pediatricians, family practitioners, obstetricians, dentists and the Carroll Hospital Center Birthing Center, states that the American Dental Association has released new guidelines on fluoride intake for infants and young children.
The ADA report, available on the association’s Web site, www.ada.org, is in response to a report by the National Research Council questioning whether infants might be receiving too much fluoride from formula made with fluoridated water. In its response to the NRC, the ADA agreed that excess fluoride can result in dental fluorosis, a condition where the tooth enamel is marred by white lines or streaks, but denied that the white marks are a sign of any further health problems.
The ADA now recommends that infants be given formula that is either ready to feed as packaged or is reconstituted with nonfluoridated water for the first 12 months of life.
Westminster, Wakefield Valley, Mount Airy and the Freedom District are the only fluoridated water systems in the county, said Dr. Elizabeth Ruff, deputy health officer of the Carroll County Health Department. Fluoride may occur naturally in some groundwater in Carroll County, but generally at less than 0.3 parts per million, Ruff said, which is far below the optimal levels set by the ADA, 0.7 to 1.2 ppm. Most water systems that do fluoridate public water use 1 ppm, she said, to help children receive the prescribed amount believed to reduce tooth decay.
Ruff met with several members of the Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council to discuss the health affects of fluoride after the issue was raised at the January council meeting.
Several council members had expressed concern over the new ADA guidelines and had wanted to have them better publicized in the county. Other council members questioned the need for public fluoridation at all, considering most European nations do not use it and yet have comparable levels of tooth health and decay as the United States.
After meeting with Ruff in an EAC fluoride committee, EAC member Sher Horosko said the committee was content to have the health department send out a warning letter about giving fluoridated water to infants, and to wait for more conclusive evidence on the general health affects of fluoride before making any recommendations for or against public water fluoridation.
Parents with questions about fluoride and children are recommended to call their pediatrician or the health department at 410-876-4927.