- High fluoride content in drinking water could affect the intellectual development of children.
- High water fluoride exposure is significantly associated with a reduced level of intelligence.
- Water quality and water fluoride exposure should be improved in areas with high water fluoride content.
Objectives: Higher fluoride concentrations in water have inconsistently been associated with the levels of intelligence in children. The following study summarizes the available evidence regarding the strength of association between fluoridated water and children’s intelligence.
Study design: Meta-analysis.
Methods: PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were systematically analyzed from November 2016. Observational studies that have reported on intelligence levels in relation to high and low water fluoride contents, with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were included. Further, the results were pooled using inverse variance methods. The correlation between water fluoride concentration and intelligence level was assessed by a dose–response meta-analysis.
Results: Twenty-six studies reporting data on 7258 children were included. The summary results indicated that high water fluoride exposure was associated with lower intelligence levels (standardized mean difference : ?0.52; 95% CI: ?0.62 to ?0.42; P < 0.001). The findings from subgroup analyses were consistent with those from overall analysis. The dose–response meta-analysis suggested a significant association between water fluoride dosage and intelligence (P < 0.001), while increased water fluoride exposure was associated with reduced intelligence levels.
Conclusions: Greater exposure to high levels of fluoride in water was significantly associated with reduced levels of intelligence in children. Therefore, water quality and exposure to fluoride in water should be controlled in areas with high fluoride levels in water.