A warning about mixing New York City’s drinking water with baby formula could end up on residents’ future water bills.
Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. proposed the legislation last month to include the message to caution parents and caregivers about using the city’s tap water, which contains fluoride, with baby formula. The notice would suggest children six months and younger could develop dental problems from consuming the fluoridated water.
The proposal is Vallone’s latest measure in his push to eliminate fluoride from the city’s water altogether. After he lacked support from a majority of the City Council on a bill he introduced last year to ban fluoridated water, Vallone said he decided a warning on residents’ water bills would be a start toward achieving his larger goal.
“I hope to prevent little babies from being poisoned,” Vallone said. “No one should be forced to ingest this toxic poison every day of their life.”
National health experts say fluoride in public drinking water helps to reduce tooth decay, especially for those individuals who lack affordable dental health options. City officials have added fluoride to the drinking water system since 1964.
Vallone’s proposed warning, which cites the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, argues that infants consuming baby formula with the fluoridated water could develop fluorosis. White spots and staining can appear on the tooth enamel of a person with the condition.
Although it’s possible an infant could develop fluorosis this way, severe cases of the condition are rare, said William Bailey, chief dental officer and acting director of the CDC’s Division of Oral Health. Any warning from a government entity should emphasize that the effects of fluorosis are usually mild.
“It’s a decision parents really have to look and see if they are concerned about it,” Bailey said.
The issue has alarmed parent Larisa Cox, a member of the Queens chapter of the Holistic Moms Network. The Kew Gardens mother, who breast-fed her 13-month-old son, Justin, said parents should be able to choose how much or how little fluoride their children consume.
“I am very concerned because we have enough to deal with and it’s almost like the government is pushing it on us,” she said of fluoride in the drinking water. “This is just outrageous that we’re forced to drink that water.”
A warning like what Vallone has proposed will help parents, unaware that the water is fluoridated, make more informed decisions, said Paul Beeber, president of the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation. The coalition was formed more than 30 years ago to advocate for an end to the fluoridation practice around the state.
“The least they can do is send a message to mothers,” he said.
The American Dental Association published two reports in 2010 about the issue of fluoride and infants. The panelists of the reports recommended that children ideally be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. If babies are fed formula, however, the panelists suggested that the water be fluoride-free.
While using fluoridated water with baby formula wasn’t discouraged, the report recommended that parents have an understanding about the possibility that their children could develop fluorosis.
As Vallone continues on his path to end fluoridation in the city, he said he’s mindful that he has a long road ahead.
“I’m very concerned about what our population is unknowingly ingesting,” he said. “I rather have the warning and start with this.”
Title of article: Vallone, Mothers Urge End To Fluoridation Of Drinking Water