In a study conducted on 500 pregnant women, the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot, and the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) has found that the intake of water with high fluoride content is linked to anaemia in Malwa. Anaemia is characterised by a deficiency of red blood cells and low haemoglobin production.
The study is titled “Assessment of urinary fluoride level in pregnant women of rural Punjab and its effects on pregnancy”.
In rural areas, mainly in Malwa, 100 per cent pregnant women are having fluoride levels higher than the permissible limit (1 mg per litre) and 78 per cent of them are anaemic, a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality.
The study reveals that a majority of the people (over 90 per cent) consume water with fluoride content above the permitted level, making them prone to anaemia.
At least 33 of the 500 women patients covered under the study had either missed abortion or malformed foetus in second trimester of pregnancy. The fluoride level in the urine of these patients was more than 2mg/L.
While the fluoride level in 118 women showed it more than 1-2 mg/L, in 159 women, this level was more than 2-3mg/L. In 243 patients, it was found more than 3 mg/L.
The testing of water source from eight villages in the periphery of Faridkot showed higher levels of fluoride. The maximum level (2.1-3.3 mg/L range) has been found in hand pumps. In tap water, this range is between 1.9-2.8 mg/L.
Nearly 125 of the 500 pregnant women, who were tested, were from Machaki Mal Singh, Dashmesh Nagar, Kameana, Pipli, Rajuwala, Ariyanwala, Bazigar Basti and Chahal villages.
Among these 125 women, flouride level was tested in the range of 2-3 mg/L in 84 women, more than 3 mg/L in 16 and 1-2 mg/L in 25.
Excess fluoride seems to be intricately linked to anaemia, said the doctors associated with the study — Dr Lajya Goyal, a gynaecologist in Faridkot, and Dr Dapinder Kaur Bakshi of the PSCST.
Lowering fluoride from their diet and water and putting them on a nutritious food regime could restore the haemoglobin level of these women, said Dr Raj Bahadur, Vice Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, and a noted spinal surgeon. Excess fluoride could adversely affect haemoglobin production through multiple ways. It destroys intestinal lining, affecting nutrient absorption in the gut. This could limit iron absorption even when the diet is rich in iron, he said.
The university will educate the people to shun the use of rock salt and drink water containing low fluoride, said the VC.
A publication of the Geological Survey of India had named many areas in the country that should go on fluoride red alert some time ago. These areas included Fazilka and Jalalabad in Ferozepur. Fluoride content in tubewell water in Fazilka is 6 to 12 mg per litre, said Dr GS Dhillon, a consultant engineer for water resources development projects.
The causes for fluoridation of groundwater are natural and human-made. Fluoride-bearing minerals present in rocks are leached out due to various natural processes. Certain phosphatic fertilisers also cause fluoride to leach into groundwater, said Dr Dhillon.
90 per cent people in rural Malwa consume water with fluoride content above the permitted level, making them prone to anaemia
33 of 500 patients covered had either missed abortion or malformed foetus in second trimester of pregnancy. The fluoride level in their urine was more than 2mg/litre
*Original article online at https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/78-pc-pregnant-women-in-malwa-anaemic-study/654047.html
See also areas with high fluoride in water