Fluoride Action Network

Harvard Scientist Criticizes Wichita Paper’s Whitewash of Fluoride/IQ Study

Fluoride Action Network | Press Release | March 18, 2013

A poorly fact-checked article from a Kansas newspaper is being cited by well-funded advocacy organizations across the country to convince decision-makers, physicians and the public to disregard a peer-reviewed Harvard research paper linking fluoride to lower IQ in children, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Harvard scientist, Philippe Grandjean, MD, states the newspaper never “checked their information with the authors, even though statements were attributed to them.”

The Kansas newspaper (the Wichita Eagle) heavily promoted fluoridation on its editorial pages in the buildup to a city referendum in which voters rejected an effort to fluoridate water. “We believe the newspaper’s bias showed up in news articles that were supposed to be objective and truthful but were not,” says Paul Connett, PhD, FAN Executive Director.

Fluoridation is the addition of fluoride chemicals into public water supplies ostensibly to reduce tooth decay.

The Wichita paper’s opening paragraph on the Harvard IQ study declared: “Harvard university scientists say Wichita voters shouldn’t depend on a research study they compiled to decide whether to put fluoride in the city’s drinking water to fight tooth decay.”

This, however, was false. Dr. Philippe Grandjean, the senior scientist on the Harvard team, has criticized the Wichita paper for deceptively attributing its own conclusions on fluoridation to the Harvard scientists. Fluoridation’s potential to produce “chemical brain drain,” Grandjean writes, is an issue that “definitely deserves concern.”

Grandjean also takes objection to the Wichita paper’s claim that the Harvard review only looked at studies that used “very high levels of fluoride.” The Wichita paper conveyed this impression by focusing on a single, cherry-picked study (Hu 1989) that was never published, nor even included in the Harvard review.

The truth, Grandjean writes, is that “only 4 of 27 studies” in the Harvard review used the high levels that the Wichita paper described, and “clear differences” in IQ “were found at much lower exposures.”

The journalist, Dion Lefler, who wrote the Wichita article had a record of getting basic facts about fluoride wrong. “This is the same journalist,” Connett notes, “who reported that the poison warning now found on all fluoridated toothpaste is not there because of fluoride—a blatant error that the paper has yet to correct.”

“Instead of relying on a Kansas newspaper to discredit the findings of a peer-reviewed, published study by Harvard scientists, health authorities should be taking a long hard look at the wisdom and safety of forcing communities to consume fluoride chemicals in their water and food — a practice most developed nations rejected decades ago,” says Connett.

Thirty-six human studies now link fluoride to children’s lowered IQ, some at levels considered safe in the US.

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