SIR – I would like to thank Dr F Baigel, a dentist from Bury, Lancaster, for his considered response to my letter regarding the emerging evidence from current epidemiological studies showing an association between low to moderate fluoride exposure with developmental neurotoxicity, as well as endocrine, liver and kidney damage.
Your readers may also be interested to know that since The Southern Star published my original letter, yet another epidemiological study has been published in scientific literature which found an association between low to moderate fluoride intake and obesity in children.
It is interesting to note that Dr Baigel praises the Irish Government for being the first country in the world, and only one of two internationally, to introduce mandatory fluoridation on the basis that this was justified to prevent pressure groups influencing individual local councils. In other words, he appears to support medical intervention without informed consent and authoritarian decisions being taken by Government against the wishes of the people they serve.
In addition, Dr Baigel neglects to mention that, when mandatory fluoridation was introduced here, the Republic of Ireland had the highest per-capita consumption of tea in the world, at levels twice that which we have today. Tea has been acknowledged since the 1930s to be a major source of dietary fluoride intake and the benefits of tea consumption in regard to oral health have been extensively studied in countries outside of Ireland.
In fact, in the 1960s, Japanese researchers found that tea drinking was more effective than water fluoridation in preventing dental caries and dental researchers in the UK advised that fluoridation was unnecessary due their consumption of tea. Despite this, the very first published study to measure fluoride levels in tea commercially available in Ireland was not published until 2016.
As Dr Baigel knows, I was the lead author of this study, which is referenced in the current JAMA Paediatrics study addressing maternal fluoride intake and cognitive impairment in offspring. Moreover, when Dr Baigel refers to previous studies on the island of Ireland comparing dental caries prevalence between Northern Ireland and the Republic, he neglects to mention that during this period Northern Ireland had a persistent poverty prevalence twice that of Great Britain and one of the highest levels of disadvantaged youth, social inequality, poverty and unemployment in the EU.
Despite a higher proportion of children in Northern Ireland living in persistent poverty the results of the study found that 75.7% of eight-year-olds were caries-free in Northern Ireland compared to 79.5% in fluoridated communities in the Republic of Ireland, in other words a difference of less than 5%.
He also neglects to mention the substantial research which shows an association between water fluoridation and delayed eruption of permanent teeth. I would add that if Dr Baigel wishes to compare health statistics between the two jurisdictions of populations on the same island, he need look no further than to compare the enormous inequalities in cancer incidence between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Fifty-five years after commencement of mandatory fluoridation it is now evident that for almost every single health outcome the Republic of Ireland fares significantly worse than Northern Ireland. There are some biological-plausible explanations as to how fluoridation of water may be contributing to these inequalities.