Fluoride Action Network

Infant Exposure

"Fluoride is now introduced at a much earlier stage of human development than ever before and consequently alters the normal fluoride-pharmacokinetics in infants. But can one dramatically increase the normal fluoride-intake to infants and get away with it?" - Dr. Jennifer Luke.

Five Ways to Protect Your Child

The five most important things you can do to protect your newborn child from fluoride exposure are the following:

1) Breast feed, Breast feed, Breast feed!

Without question, the single most important way to protect a baby from fluoride exposure is to breast feed. Human breast milk almost completely excludes fluoride and thus an exclusively breast-fed baby will receive virtually no fluoride exposure. Breast feeding your child will thus significantly reduce his or her risk of developing dental fluorosis and possibly other effects, including brain damage.

2) If Breast feeding Is Not Feasible, Do NOT Use Fluoridated Water

Since breast feeding is not always a feasible option, infant formula must sometimes be used. When this is the case, it is critically important that you do not use fluoridated drinking water to prepare your baby’s formula. Fluoridated water, which contains up to 300 times more fluoride than breast milk, is by far the single largest source of fluoride for infants. When formula must be used, therefore, make sure to use a water source that has low levels of fluoride (less than 0.1 ppm). Low-fluoride water can be obtained in one of three ways:

  • purchasing bottled water (most bottled waters have low levels of fluoride);
  • filtering the water with a system that uses reverse osmosis, deionization (with ion exchange resins), or activated alumina technology;
  • distilling the water with a countertop distiller.

To see the fluoride levels in popular brands of bottled water, click here. For further information on water filtration and distillation, click here.

3) Use Milk-Based Formulas Instead of Soy-Based Formulas

Infant formulas generally contain elevated levels of fluoride, even before the addition of fluoridated water. Some types of formula, however, tend to have higher levels than others. Soy-based formulas, for example, generally have higher levels of fluoride than cow milk-based formulas. To reduce a baby’s exposure to fluoride, therefore, it is generally best to use milk-based formulas. For further information on how to select the right formula, see FAN’s “Top 5 Ways to Reduce Fluoride Exposure from Infant Formula.”

4) Do NOT Use Non-Organic Grape Juice

Due to heavy use of a fluoride pesticide known as “cryolite,” U.S.-made grape juices — particularly white grape juice — have consistently high levels of fluoride. According to the USDA, the average level of fluoride in white grape juice exceeds 2 ppm, which is over 600 times more fluoride than a baby receives from breast milk. If you purchase grape juice for your child, therefore, make sure to buy organic varieties, since cryolite is not allowed in organic juice. Also, since many juice drinks use white grape juice as a filler material, it is important to be mindful of the ingredients in the juices you buy: if the label says it has white grape juice, do not purchase the product unless it is organic. For more information on fluoride exposure from pesticides, click here.

5) Use More Fresh Food, Less Processed Food (and Avoid Processed Chicken)

When your baby is old enough to eat solid food, it is best to provide as much fresh food (e.g., fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats), and as little pre-made food you can. As a general rule, fresh fruits and vegetables, and to a lesser extent meat, contain very low levels of fluoride. By contrast, pre-made foods are generally higher in fluoride content, particularly in heavily fluoridated countries such as the United States where it is common for food companies to use fluoridated water in the food-making process.

Although fluoride intake from solid food is far less of a significant concern than fluoride intake from beverages (e.g., water, formula, and grape juice), there is one type of processed food that should be consistently avoided. Specifically, you should avoid purchasing pre-made infant foods made with chicken. Most infant foods that are made with chicken (e.g., pureed chicken) contain high levels of fluoride-laden bone particles due to the use of mechanical-deboning processes. As a result, pureed chicken meals have been found to have an average fluoride content of about 4 ppm, with some products having as much as 8 ppm fluoride. At 8 ppm, two ounces of the chicken would contribute 0.48 mg of fluoride to the baby’s daily exposure. This is more than half the benchmark level (0.72 mg/day) that the EPA has established “to protect against severe dental fluorosis in children.”  To reduce your baby’s fluoride exposure from chicken, try to make your own chicken meals instead of purchasing the pre-made varieties. For more information, click here.

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